Goodbye Beckham, Overall Mark: B (This image is the property of

Goodbye David Beckham.

The big footballing story of the week is surely Signor Capello doing the decent thing and closing the door on David Beckham’s England career. This isn’t an unexpected development and any serious football fan would have told you that Beckham’s time wearing the three lions ended on 14 March when, against Chievo, he crumpled in a heap in the San Siro cenre circle. A bizarrely ignominious end to a career saturated by bright lights and celebrity.

What do we make of Beckham’s enforced retirement? Well, he’s one of those rare players who genuinely splits opinion right down the middle. Personally, I’ve always had the opinion that once a player is judged incapable of lasting the full 90 minutes, they should be dropped, there’s no point in hanging around and there’s no point in sentimentality either. Capello was bought in because it was judged that England needed a firm hand at the tiller after the mateyness of Sven and McClaren. Complaining that Capello is ruthlessly dropping players is rather like complaining that is gets a bit dark at night time.

Predictably enough, once the “Brand Beckham” boys heard about Capello’s plan to cease picking their meal ticket they kicked into overdrive, insisting that their man would never retire from England and would continue to make himself available for England as long as was playing “competitive” football for the LA Galaxy (If that isn’t a contradiction in terms).  This response can be looked at in two ways, it’s either hugley selfish, in so far as he should recognise his time is up and gracefully stand aside for some new faces, or it can be seen as a rather patriotic gesture, a man still prepared to lace up his boots for his country.

In my opinion, it seems that Beckham’s England career is summed up by a few exceptional moments, sandwiched by large amounts of mediocrity. We all remember his faultless performance against Greece in 2002, just as easily as we remember his sending off in 1998 against Argentina. We can remember his taking revenge against Argentina in Sapporo in 2002, just as easily as we remember the missed penalty in Euro 2004 against France, and the missed penalties against Turkey and Portugal.

We can balance the obvious pride and passion that Beckham had while representing his country, against the obviously selfish desire to unnaturally extend his England career beyond it’s usefulness.

So, it’s recently revealed that David Beckham suffers from a condition that around about 5.4 million other people in the UK suffer from, including your faithful blog author here. Indeed, I have personally lived under the yoke of the blue Ventolin for the last 25 years, and yes, It is a pain in the arse. Personally, I think that asthma could be the only reason for Beckham’s recent strolling performances in the England shirt.

On a serious note, I’m rather pleased that this world famous footballer has “come out” of the wheezing closet. I’m a little disappointed that Beckham’s agent has seen fit to re-assure us all that his clients’ asthma won’t affect his performance in South Africa. I mean, if Capello had a pair, he wouldn’t pick Beckham in his squad, but that’s another blog entry.

What surprises me about this particular story isn’t so much that Beckham has asthma, but it’s more the media reaction to it. I know that the presses are super-anxious to crowbar Beckham’s face into their papers by any means necessary, but the reaction is blown out off all recognisable proportion. It’s almost like Beckham is the only athlete to have it and of course, we all know that isn’t true.

We all know that Paul Scholes has asthma, but did you know that US diver, Greg Louganis is a sufferer? And were you aware that our very own Paula Radcliffe gets exercise induced asthma? That’s Paula Radcliffe, one of the greatest distance runners these islands have ever produced.

Although I don’t normally bang the drum for things like this and I don’t expect Beckham to suddenly become the asthmatic spokesman, I rather hope that the news that Beckham is a sufferer sheds some light on this rather misunderstood condition.

*On the side, I notice that Beckham has a rather snazzy red inhaler, I’m surprised it isn’t gold plated*