James Lawton: If the heat is on, Beckham can never be mistaken for Cool Hand Luke

He has now been sent off six times in his career, twice while playing for England, and on every occasion these dismissals have been as a result of a loss of composure. Most troubling now is the accelerating pace of his emotion-induced indiscretions.

In Madrid on Sunday night, with irony that would have been hilarious if we were not so often asked to judge Beckham as a serious, even statesmanlike senior player, the England captain was ejected for intruding into a matter that didn't concern him and then derisively applauding the referee at the award of a yellow card. This, most will remember, was precisely the reason why Beckham's young team-mate Wayne Rooney was dismissed during defeat by Northern Ireland recently. Then, Beckham rushed forward to offer wise counsel and was promptly told to push off, so to say.

After his dismissal against Austria while playing for England, an embarrassment that was triggered by the receipt of a yellow card for going into a tackle with his arm raised, Beckham reminded all those not so familiar with the Spanish game that in his adopted football land players were generally cautioned for making tackles in such a fashion. Presumably, he had forgotten or ignored the fact that the referee was Spanish. Either way, it did make you wonder once again if he was quite the right man to gauge the state of an important game before imposing his authority.

After the episode with Rooney, Beckham invited the youngster to Madrid, where, we were led to believe, the advice that was so brusquely rejected in Belfast was repeated in more congenial circumstances. We have to guess that the thrust of the wise one's reflections was it is vital to always keep your head.

There is a certain mad glory to the captain's straight-faced playing of the sage. He remains utterly unconfounded by the evidence he produces, on a regular basis, that when the heat is on he is never going to be mistaken for Cool Hand Luke.

As to the debate on the value of a genuinely inspiring, and disciplined captain, someone like Bobby Moore or Franco Baresi or Johan Cruyff or Franz Beckenbauer, there are arguments on either side. A good team, with a core of sound, experienced professionals, generally has three or four obvious candidates to wear the armband if necessary. In the current England team, John Terry, outstandingly, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville have made cases for themselves.

However, none of them makes such a nice picture while shaking hands in the centre circle. Some feel this is about as far as the job goes. However, they may accept there are certain other basic duties. One of them, we can guess, is to behave like a grown-up professional. Going into World Cup year, however, it is probably too much to hope for such a quantum leap.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?