Monday, July 03, 2006

Oh Captain, My Captain!

The blankpaige is indebted to Tommy and Andy who supplied invaluable technical information for this post.

The recent exit by the English football team from the World Cup has come with its customary pantomime. Wayward lads going a bit wayward, reliable heads becoming reckless, master strategists losing the plot, strange tactical decisions, star player gets injured … oh, and a few missed penalties. I have spent long enough in England to know that they have a God-given right to win the World Cup and it is only the evil forces of Beelzebub, the ‘Argies’ and those satanic men in black that thwart their natural progress. So this competition was, it seems true to form.

However what has caught my attention though is the pernicious and vitriolic attacks on their erstwhile Captain, David Beckham. It seems to me (who knows little enough about soccer)(but has been confirmed by Tommo & Andy) that David Beckham has consistently delivered for his country. He has more or less single-handedly been responsible for England’s qualification to the last three major competitions. He has never been considered to be technically gifted but is recognised as a hard-working honest grafter. (Although this lack of technique didn’t prevent widespread adoration during qualifying matches where he has consistently played a pivotal role.) His particular technical skill has been his curling free-kick shots on goal during set-pieces which I am advised takes a lot of skill to execute. He is recognised as no longer having the stamina to run back and forth and in recent years he has been played on the wing to exploit his normally pin-point precision with crosses.

Beckham has had a rollercoaster career with England that has seen him go from mass adulation to naked hostility and back in a very short space of time. It is recognised that he takes his role as Captain incredibly seriously and has elevated this position through the respect he commands among his fellow professionals. Like other players he has gone through periods of loss of form but came into these Championships having completed his most successful season with Real Madrid. Although a midfield player, that he went through 15 games without scoring it seems is a particular issue. (Anybody know what short of fallow period did our best strikers endured?)

It seems that the English media take particular issue with him for his lack of a degree in English Literature, from his East End London accent and his marriage to a less than talented pop star. He certainly has enjoyed and cultivated the celebrity lifestyle but I don’t see the same vilification of his team mates, many of whom also enjoy the lifestyle. I wonder if the vicious attacks have more to do with a sort of ‘metrophobia’ than with a rigorous analysis of his contribution to English football fortunes.

Beckham certainly doesn’t fit the “man’s man” model of football Captain in the Bryan Robson mould. Beckham gets his hair, nails and skin regularly styled, shaped and stained. He has been seen wearing skirts. (Although, Tommy suggests that no-one accused Graeme Souness of being a bit effeminate when he got his perm and wore a kilt?) And what’s wrong with your team captain being sensitive?

It is said that David is something of a Gay icon. Of course, I’ve never heard any of my gay friends say so. So this might just be another one of those homophobic verbal attacks that says more about the accusers lack of comfort with their own sexuality.

This week, Beckham has seen his own personal dream crash and burn. He has seen his countries dreams of World Cup destiny fall asunder. He has suffered a significant injury at a time in his career when he could well afford not to be injured.

Yet he has recognised that one of the youngest members of the squad is likely to face the same treatment that he faced after his infamous and petulant kick out at an Argentinean opponent. So what does he do? He comes out bravely and honestly and faces the media. He resigns as captain describing his disappointment and expressing his hope to continue playing for England. This provides the incoming manager with the ability to drop him if he deems fit. He takes the spotlight of Rooney, Eriksson and his fellow team mates.

I’ve only a passing awareness of the subtleties of football and I hope that my fears of homophobia in football are unfounded. But I have been very impressed with the honest endeavour and dignity that Beckham has brought to a team that aren’t know for either. And I do know that I would be extremely proud to have someone of David’s calibre as captain of my country.


Blogger JL Pagano said...

If you are interested in homophobia in football you may like this piece by Peter Tatchell I copied onto my blog a while back...

5:21 p.m., July 03, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

What a kind and considerate tribute to David. I think he confuses some people, like me. On the one hand he is fabulously rich and surrounding with the trappings of the entertainment industry - implying vacuous and dim. On the other hand, he behaves like a fine father, caring for his role - implying sensitive and thoughtful.

I think you have been advised by people who may have overrated his playing role. Apart from his great crosses, his field play for England has been unimpressive over the last two years. But I'm not an expert or even well informed on such matters.

I hope you send David a copy.

6:06 p.m., July 03, 2006  
Blogger parnellpr said...

Becks is a god. Simple as that. I've always got really cross with people who doubted his position in the team. No matter whether his playing was good or not he ALWAYS gave more than his all. Indeed so far as I can remember some study was done a few years back that showed he ran 7-8 miles per match. Says it all really. I only hope his successor can carry on from where he left off. Pippa

11:55 p.m., July 04, 2006  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm not a huge fan of his, but I do think he has done a good job as captain, and the criticism he has received recently is unfair. For years the media treated him like some kind of superman, then as soon as he makes a mistake he is labelled washed up and no good.

"I have spent long enough in England to know that they have a God-given right to win the World Cup and it is only the evil forces of Beelzebub, the ‘Argies’ and those satanic men in black that thwart their natural progress."

It's nice to see someone agrees with me ;-p

4:44 p.m., July 05, 2006  
Blogger John of Dublin said...

Well said Paige.

I've always believed David Beckham was a great ambassador for football. Considering his huge profile, money and distractions he has handled himself very well, Clearly a great family man too.

Regarding his skills, it mainly comes down to his accurate kinking - amazing passes and spot kicks.

9:40 p.m., July 09, 2006  

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