Olympic coach flying to US to assess David Beckham
Britain’s Olympic team coach Stuart Pearce will travel to the United States next week to watch David Beckham play for the Los Angeles Galaxy before deciding whether to select the 36-year-old midfielder for the London Games.
Beckham has been included in an 80-match list that must be whittled down to 18 players. British soccer prepares to compete in the Olympics for the first time since 1960.
Beckham will have his chance to convince Pearce that he can fill one of the three squad places for players over age 23 when the coach watches the Galaxy’s May 2 match against the Seattle Sounders.
”David Beckham will be treated exactly the same as any other individual, whether it is young or over-age,” Pearce said Tuesday. ”Form and fitness will dictate what the makeup of the squad will be. David falls into the same category. I have a duty of care to the Great Britain squad to try and win a gold medal. I will pick the strongest possible squad I can.
”I will know a bit more when I go to the States to see what form (Beckham) is in.”
The former England captain has expressed a desire to play at the London Games with his career in the England team effectively over. The former captain made the last of his 115 appearances – the most for an England outfield player – in October 2009 and the Olympics would act as his farewell to international football.
The final squad will not be selected until England decides next month its 23 players for the European Championship.
”He’s made the shortlist and he has been a great ambassador for this country and the Olympics,” Pearce said. ”But that’s no recommendation that he will get in the squad and that’s fair and square across the board for all players.”
The draw for the Olympic competition took place at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, with Britain to play its opening match against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26. The hosts will play the United Arab Emirates three days later at Wembley and Uruguay on Aug. 1 at the Millennium Stadium.
Beckham’s former Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo helped to conduct the draw and has no doubt that the Galaxy player should play at the Olympics.
”He would guarantee quality,” said the former Brazil forward, who won a bronze at the 1996 Olympics. ”Beckham is a real calm guy and a team player and despite his status and fame he is actually very humble. Never during my time at Real Madrid did I hear anyone complain about him, and he would help with the younger players.
”He’s still playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy and only last week scored a beautiful goal from outside the box into the top corner, he really looks after himself. So despite his age, I really think he could contribute.”
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris