The evidence is in. The jury has returned. Now, finally, can we put to bed all those arguments about the relative appeal of Italian versus British men?
As a nation, this country is famously talented at disparaging its own. We criticise our looks. We put down our food. The only thing we seem to think we're good at is football (despite all the evidence to the contrary). But the images in this week's papers said it all. The Italian man struggling to claim his place as a British national icon by signing up as the new manager of the England football team is famous for modelling posh designer specs. The homegrown talent... well!
You've got to hand it to Beckham (even if "it" is only a large towelling robe and some frosted windows): he knows how to add to the gaiety of a nation. In the darkest dog days of the year, with the country shivering, a housing crash looming and a recession forecast, who but Becks would jet home, get his kit off and raise a huge smile across the country?
Fabio Capello, on the other hand, is not quite such a hero in his homeland. Despite winning his domestic league with every team he has managed, fans of clubs he has left behind do not always remain friends. "When I go back [to Rome] I have to be very careful," he admitted last year. "I have a trusted dentist there, but when I go I have to alert the DIGOS [Italian special branch]. I can't walk the streets or go into a bar for a coffee." When your best friend is your dentist, you've got to worry. But Fabio, girls don't make passes at boys who model designer glasses. Have you thought of investing in some Armani knickers instead?
Beckham's latest advertising campaign for Giorgio Armani underwear has been criticised by some. But there's something even more intrinsically fake about adverts for eyewear. For a start, the only adverts in which people wear glasses are adverts for glasses. And then there are those red frames: which are even less discreet than Beckham's smalls.
The accompanying literature for the particular Zerorh+4 specs modelled by Capello says that they "combine refined aesthetics and structural strength" just like Beckham. He apparently wears them "not just for the advertising campaign, but also for his sports activities and in his private life". Presumably Beckham wears his pants in his private life, too. (But not his very private life we've heard.) They also promise "peak performance in all weather conditions". So, we hope, do Beckham's briefs. But Beckham's advert says so much more than Capello's ever can. Even Ruud Gullit, who played for Capello at AC Milan, denied that football under him would be "beautiful" or "sexy". It's not just the winning, guys.
But it is the differences between our local hero and the fancy newcomer that best highlight everything that is solid and down-to-earth about this country. Fabio collects art and fine wines; David collects tattoos. Fabio looked grumpy in a tutu; David looked fabulous in a sarong. Fabio is a fan of General Franco; David is more at home with the 1980s pop sensation Frankie goes to Hollywood.
In the coming weeks, Capello is bound to come under scrutiny for his tactics, his attitude, his spectacles, his haircut... But what most concerns football fans is his grasp of English, which is apparently shaky. Never fear, he can learn a lot from a man like Beckham, who has always made a few words go a long way.