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Beckham adds Spanish dash to England's Euro bid
 
Name
David Beckham
Position
Midfielder
Club
Real Madrid
DOB
12.05.1975
David Beckham heads into Euro 2004 with the jury still out on the wisdom of the England captain's highly-publicised move to Real Madrid.

After falling out with Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, Beckham wanted to measure himself against the best players in the world and signed up to play alongside Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul.

He made a promising start but his form has dipped markedly this year, raising doubts among Real fans and hackles among a demanding Spanish press.


Following a 1-1 draw in March with Racing Santander, whose keeper Ricardo was briefly a former United team mate, sports daily Marca gave a damning verdict on the England skipper's progress in Spain.

"At first, Beckham played football and ran. Then, he ran and played football. After that, he just ran. Yesterday, he didn't play football or run. His best moment was hugging Ricardo."

The King's Cup final summed up Beckham's frustrations with a rare goal from a free-kick being followed by him losing possession and inadvertently setting up Real Zaragoza's winner.

His move to Spain has not helped him escape the attentions of the British media and he released a statement in April saying he was "happily married" to his pop star wife Victoria after newspaper allegations that he had an extra-marital affair.

A silver lining on the playing side for England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is that Beckham has appeared in a central midfield role for Real after a United career spent almost entirely on the right flank.

Eriksson will certainly be hoping for an improvement in Portugal as Beckham, along with striker Michael Owen, are the two most important players in his squad.

Owen provides the goals, along with a somewhat worrying statistic that England have not won a game since the end of Euro 2000 without the Liverpool striker being on the field.

But Beckham also provides goals -- five in the seven Euro qualifiers he played -- and, more importantly, his naked desire to succeed enables him to lift a struggling team single-handed.

His trademark free-kick equaliser against Greece, which booked England into the 2002 World Cup, was not just a superb piece of skill but a reward for a dogged afternoon of tireless running, tackling and tracking back.

Hamstrung at the 2002 finals by his slow recovery from a broken foot -- although he made no mistake with a penalty-kick winner against Argentina -- Beckham will be key to England's hopes of progress at Euro 2004 and selling even more number seven England shirts.

For along with his value on the pitch, as United marketing executives know all too well, Beckham's standing in fashion and youth culture around the world makes him a particularly lucrative asset off it.

However, his value on the pitch underpins everything he has acquired and the real dividend England are hoping for in Portugal is to see Beckham holding up the trophy.
- Trevor Huggins

 

 

 

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