Capello calls time on Beckham

Coach brands former captain 'too old' in latest blunder as Gerrard saves team from humiliation against Hungary
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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello's credibility as England manager took another blow last night, as he botched the announcement that David Beckham's international career is over in the wake of his team's unconvincing 2-1 victory over Hungary.

Capello ushered in his new-look England team by trumpeting the end of an era, revealing in an interview with the broadcaster ITV that he considers Beckham, 35, to be "a little bit old" and not part of his plans for the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Asked for his opinion on Beckham's future, Capello replied: "Thank you for helping me during the World Cup, but he's probably a little bit old. Thank you."

However the interview had been recorded on Monday, and in the 48 hours Capello had not been able to contact Beckham, who is the most capped outfield player in English football history with 115 appearances and is the second on the all-time list, behind Peter Shilton.

Beckham and his representatives were notified by an official from the Football Association about Capello's comments, but Beckham is understood to be upset that he has not heard the news from the manager himself. A spokesman for Beckham said: "There has been no discussion of retirement. He will always be available for his country, when fit, and if needed he will be there."

Capello later admitted he had tried to call Beckham but had failed to make contact. "We tried to speak with him, but we haven't managed to. I think David knows that he has no future with the national team because we have to change," he said.

Capello said he wants to give Beckham, who is close to recovering from the torn Achilles that ruled him out of the World Cup, one farewell appearance at Wembley in a friendly.

The manager said: "I hope, that when David is OK he can play here a friendly at Wembley to say bye-bye and thank you very much. I won't pick him for any more competitive games. I change it. We need players for the future."

Capello's decision to end Beckham's career marks a change on his stance in March, when he said: "I hope he will be fit for the Euros because he is one of the best players in England."

Beckham bows out after one of the finest and also most controversial England careers of all time, which began against Moldova in September 1996 and ended against Belarus in October 2009, and covered 115 caps, 17 goals and two red cards.

Capello's communication problems follow calls for the Italian to be dismissed from his £6m-a-year job following England's disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa. The manager was embarrassed at the weekend when goalkeeper Paul Robinson and defender Wes Brown announced their retirements from the England team after being picked in the squad.

Captain Steven Gerrard scored two late goals as Capello's revamped team had to come from behind to overcome Hungary, who are ranked 62 in the world. The Liverpool midfielder saved Capello from embarrassment after England had fallen behind to an own goal from Phil Jagielka that did not cross the line.

After the game Gerrard warned against writing off Beckham's England career just yet. He said: "If he has played his last game, he'll certainly be missed because, both on and off the pitch, he's a great guy. You never know with David. I'm sure that if he hears that news, it'll drive him on and he'll try to prove people wrong and try to get back in the set-up, because I know he loves playing for England."

Capello started with three players who had not been part of the squad in South Africa, handing starts to Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson and the unfortunate Jagielka. In the second half he brought on four players for their England debuts – Kieran Gibbs, Bobby Zamora, Michael Dawson and the 18-year-old Jack Wilshere.

Capello said: "I'm happy because we found new players. We found something new. It's really important."

England's World Cup players were given a mixed reception by the Wembley crowd, who booed the World Cup flops. The team collectively were jeered off the pitch at half-time when the game was scoreless, and Rooney was abused when he was substituted in the second half.

The manager said: "The supporters I know, I'm sure, love Rooney. He's a really important England player and can make the difference in every game. We have to wait. He's not in a good moment and has to play more. He's big, he needs to play more games."

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