Brian Viner: Pity poor Beckham. Actually, don't

All good things come to an end. This one might be timed fortuitously

Share
Related Topics

Of all the injuries for David Beckham to sustain, cruelly ruling him out of consideration for the England World Cup squad, it is apt that it should be to the Achilles tendon, named after the most handsome hero of Greek mythology, invulnerable everywhere except his foot. Fatally, Achilles copped an arrow in the heel.

And fatally for his international career, Beckham has snapped a tendon in his ankle, a podiatric mishap to add to the broken metatarsal he suffered shortly before the World Cup in 2002. Indeed, the erstwhile England captain has become something of a modern-day composite of ancient Greek myths and legends. Dubbed Goldenballs by his very own wife, he has always assiduously courted media attention. In other words he is the man with the Midas touch, flying too close to The Sun.

Opinion is divided on whether this shattering injury – which occurred on Sunday while he was playing for Milan – represents wholly bad news for England's World Cup hopes. The England manager, Fabio Capello, whom Beckham won over when both were at Real Madrid, would almost certainly have selected the 34-year-old for his squad, intending to deploy him as what has become known in footballing circles as an impact substitute.

Certainly, Beckham's gift for striking a ball has not diminished, even if his ability to outrun or dribble past an opposing player, never his greatest asset, is these days reminiscent less of Stanley Matthews than Bernard Matthews, or possibly even the late Jessie Matthews. Yet it is by no means impossible to imagine a scenario whereby Capello, with his team perhaps 1-0 down in the quarter-final and desperate for better delivery of the ball into the penalty area, might have been rewarded by sending Beckham into the fray.

The key words in that sentence are "might have been". Beckham cannot recover in time to make the plane to South Africa, and it is almost impossible now to envisage him adding to the 115 appearances that already make him the most capped outfield player in England's history. The question is: should the nation mourn the passing of the Beckham era?

Unequivocally, it should not. All good things come to an end, and this good thing may have come to an end at a fortuitous moment, offering an opportunity to a younger player less familiar to the opposition than old Goldenballs, such as Manchester City's promising Adam Johnson. Besides, Beckham's presence in the squad, and his wife Victoria's hollow-cheeked presence in the crowd, would have given England's World Cup adventure a veneer of Beverly Hills glitz that it might be better off without. And looking for other small mercies, losing Beckham greatly reduces the tattoo count.

Furthermore, this latest injury surely uses up Capello's ration of bad luck. He has had to sack his captain, the priapic John Terry, and Terry's successor Rio Ferdinand is struggling for fitness. His world-class left-back, Ashley Cole, is crocked, with no guarantee that he will be fit in time. Ditto the gifted winger Aaron Lennon. All of which, by all that is fair, should mean that Capello's primary weapon Wayne Rooney stays sharp until June. If he snaps anything, then we all might as well switch over to the cricket.

b.viner@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
Ed Miliband:  

Ed Miliband: I pledge to make Britain a more just and equal country

Ed Miliband
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk