Monday 22 January 2018

David Beckham denies his Olympic selection would be a stunt

DAVID Beckham has dismissed suggestions that he will be selected for the GB Olympic football team for commercial reasons as "disrespectful" to his achievements in the game.

Beckham is one of the favourites to be selected as an over-age player in Stuart Pearce’s squad next month, a move that would add significant interest to a tournament that has been greeted with indifference from club managers and outright opposition from administrators in the Celtic nations.

Having collected 115 international caps and won numerous titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid however, Beckham said today that he is offended by the notion that he will be there to help shift tickets.

Speaking before he returned from Athens to the UK to light the Olympic torch in Cornwall, the former England captain suggested his record deserve more respect.

There was no anger in his words – he even apologised to the questioner for making the point – but the issue has clearly offended his pride in an outstanding career.

“I have never said it before but that suggestion has always felt a but disrespectful," said Beckham.

"Whenever I have been asked about shirt sales or filling stadiums it has always felt it is a bit disrespectful. Throughout my career I have been pretty successful, I’ve played for some pretty big teams, represented my country quite a few times, and played for managers without sentiment.

“When you play for Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello, Sven Goran Eriksson or the manager that I have played under, they don’t pick players because they want to fill a stadium or particularly to sell shirts.

“I have always found it an honour that people have wanted to buy my shirt and an honour that fans turn up to watch the team I am playing in. I have always found that a huge honour.

“But no, I don’t want to be picked for shirt sales or as a stadium-filler, I want to be picked for what I can bring to the team. That has been the case throughout my career and I don’t want that to change.”

Beckham also defended his form and fitness, and pointed to the experience he could bring to a squad that is by definition young – 15 of the 18 players will be 23 or younger – and will play only once before the Games begin.

“I am playing well and feeling fit, we are only nine games into our season, and fitness has never been a problem for me so if I am selected I will be in good condition.

“I want to play. That’s my only objective. Something that I have now is experience. I am 37 and I have experience of playing in big games and big.

“When I was captain that was one of the things I was able to bring to the team, the confidence and the hard work that you need to win.

"Experience will be important because when you have a team of young kids coming together for the Olympics for a short period of time it is important to have that experience in there."

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