Whatever happens in Zurich today, when England finally learns whether its bid to host the 2018 World Cup is successful, there is already one clear winner from the contest: a new, and strikingly impressive, David Beckham.
So much hype has surrounded Beckham since he shot to stardom more than a decade ago that it has been very difficult to see him for what he really is – a very good, but not great, footballer who has done remarkably well to retain his sense of self while living his life in the midst of a celebrity whirlwind.
Dignified and dedicated, but never aloof or immodest, Beckham has now transferred his skills from the pitch to Fifa's corridors of power where he has proved an admirable champion of England's cause, taking his place, quite at ease, alongside Prince William and the Prime Minister. He has conducted himself throughout with considerable charm and effectiveness. It hardly needs to be said that such an evolution cannot be taken for granted in the world of football.
Beckham will never be one of the world's great orators; he is a world away from Bill Clinton. But he has a quality which goes much deeper and commands respect in all quarters. He can communicate; he has class – and he has spoken for England.