DREAMING OF CUP GLORY
Could it be fourth time lucky for ‘Goldenballs’ at this year’s World Cup?
AFTER starring and scoring for England at France 1998, Korea/ Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, David Beckham told Fifa.com that he was relishing the prospect of appearing in his fourth World Cup in South Africa in June and July.
The 34-year-old midfielder’s chances of being in the Three Lions’ 23-man squad were recently discussed by England manager Fabio Capello, who said: “Of course he will be included, if he plays (for AC Milan) and is well physically.
“I don’t look at ages. I look at skill and Beckham has a lot. He is serious, a real professional and he is really dedicated to making the World Cup squad.”
In Fifa.com’s first interview of what promises to be a special year, one of world football’s highest-profile players speaks about the highs and lows he has experienced at World Cups, his thoughts on current World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his hopes for Africa’s legacy post-2010.
David, you recently helped to launch Adidas’s Jabulani, the official match ball for the 2010 World Cup, in Cape Town. Have you had a chance to practise with it yet and what do you think of it?
Yes, I had a chance to practise with it a few months ago.
It is always nice to see Adidas’s ideas before everyone else does and I think it’s great. The movement, accuracy, feel and look of the ball are perfect – it is really for the World Cup.
With 115 caps for England over the past 13 years, what changes have you noticed in international football during that time?
There have been many changes over the years: the game has got faster, the technology has got better.
You obviously see changes in the play in terms of tactics, the boots and the balls, but football is all about development and change.
What does playing in the World Cup mean to you?
It is the biggest footballing competition in the world, so any player who is lucky enough to be part of a World Cup knows how special it really is.
I have been lucky to have played in three and hope I will be luckier still to play in a fourth. It really is an incredible feeling.
What are your first recollections of watching the World Cup as a boy?
My first memories are of watching Bryan Robson score goals (against France in Spain, 1982).
He was my hero and I wanted to emulate everything he did in his career – and I have been lucky enough to do that.
The World Cup has also been a tournament that has given you some career lows. If you take a moment to consider England’s exits to Argentina in 1998, Brazil in 2002 and Portugal four years ago, which one hurt you the most?
Every one. You can’t describe the feeling when you get knocked out of the competition.
The expectations of us as a country and as a team are so high, so when you do get knocked out it is so disappointing. Every single time hurts the same.
You have played and scored in three World Cup finals so far, but which match holds the best memories for you?
On a personal note I would have to say the game against Argentina, in 2002, where I scored the penalty. It is always special to beat your rivals, but obviously four years earlier I got sent off against them and we were beaten on penalties. To score the winning goal against them four years later was extremely special.
Argentina now have a player in their ranks, Lionel Messi, who was recently voted World Player of the Year. What are your thoughts about
Without a doubt, he is one of the best players I have played against and also one of the finest players I have ever seen.
For a little player, he’s so talented. He’s the closest player to Maradona that you can get, and he even plays in a similarly passionate way too.
He is successful and a really good person as well. I am sure he will go on to be even more successful in the future.
Who do you think will be the key man for the England team this year and why?
I think we have many key players in our team: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand – we have players all the way through our team who are exceptional. We’re lucky to have such a talented group of players.
This year will also be the first taste of a World Cup for Fabio Capello. After working with him both at Real Madrid and now England, how do you think he’ll enjoy the experience?
Fabio Capello is a very special manager. He has so much experience. He knows how to win games and he also knows how to win com- petitions.
I am sure he will relish the time when he walks out as England manager to take charge of the team for his first match at a World Cup.
To sit on the sideline and watch his team I’m sure will be a proud moment for him.
You are involved with a number of charity campaigns, such as Unicef and Malaria No More. What do you hope this World Cup will bring to South Africa and the African continent?
Football changes people’s attitudes and I think this World Cup will bring exposure to certain things. To some extent it already has.
In Cape Town, I visited a hospital where I met women and children with HIV – and that experience really touched me. So I hope that the battle against diseases like that will be in the public eye.
The World Cup will also bring a lot of money to South Africa, which may help to regenerate certain parts of this country. – Fifa.com
JUST A DREAM? England’s David Beckham is eager to hoist the World Cup trophy, having tasted disappointment in France, Germany and South Korea/Japan.