Leading article: Foot fault

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And so another great hero is laid low by a sharp pain in the ankle. We seem to have spent the best part of a decade focusing on some part or another of David Beckham's anatomy, so if this is to be the end of his long international England football career, perhaps a ruptured Achilles tendon is an appropriate episode on which to bring down the curtain. South Africa's pitches now look most unlikely to play host to Beckham's ball skills this summer, but his publicity juggling will still be on display on the sidelines. Some will doubtless say that "Brand Beckham" was always a more potent force off the field than on it in any case.

Yet such is Beckham's capacity for resurrection and drama, who, even in this dark hour, would bet against him coming on in the dwindling minutes of the World Cup final to bend one of those fabled free kicks into the back of the opposition net? That's the World Cup final in Brazil in 2014, of course.