David Beckham discovered his illustrious career had been curtailed on Wednesday night after England coach Fabio Capello revealed, in a 17-word TV statement, that the former captain would play no more competitive football for the team.
The dysfunctional nature of Capello’s regime was exposed once again after the Italian revealed in the television interview that he considered Beckham too old at 35 to continue a career that has encompassed 115 caps, 17 goals and three World Cups.
“Thank you for helping me during the World Cup, but probably (he is) a little bit old,” Capello said.
The Italian also admitted on Wednesday that he had, as yet, been unable to communicate as much to the LA Galaxy midfielder, recovering from an achilles injury.
While there is little shock in Capello’s desire to select young players such as Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson, the clumsy breakdown in communication with Beckham is troubling. The veteran sat on the bench among the coaching staff at the World Cup, yet his representative was moved to issue a statement on Wednesday night denying that Beckham would ever voluntarily go into international retirement.
Asked whether he had telephoned Beckham to tell him he would no longer be selected for competitive games, Capello said: “No. No. But I think I will speak with him. We tried to speak with him. I think David knows he has no future with the national team because we have to change.”
“Probably someone has rung him now before I called him. We tried to speak with him, but we haven't managed to,” Capello added.
“Someone asked me about Beckham (on Monday) and I said we have to look for new players, young players. You can see this evening the new players who can play on the right and left wings. I think, I hope, that when David is OK he can play here in a friendly at Wembley to say 'goodbye' and 'thank you very much'.
“I won't pick him for any more competitive games. We need players for the future with Fabio Capello and the managers after me. I have to look for new players. He was a fantastic player but age is important for all people, not only David.”
That friendly is likely to be in November, probably against, although Beckham was unaware of Capello's decision ahead of last night's game.
“There has been no discussion of retirement,” the player's spokesman said.
“He will always be available for his country, when fit, and if needed he will be there.”
The current captain Steven Gerrard, whose late brace deflated, praised his former team-mate's contribution over an career that began back in 1996.
“He's got legendary status, without a doubt,” said Gerrard. “He was a fantastic captain and, if he has played his last game, he'll certainly be missed both on and off the pitch.
“But you never know with David. I'm sure that, if he hears that news, it'll drive him on and he'll try to prove people wrong.”
The lack of communication follows on from the embarrassing retirements of Paul Robinson and Wes Brown over the weekend following their selection for last night's friendly against Hungary.
“But Paul Robinson knew he was in the 38 players who had been advised (they were to be in the provisional squad) and he didn't telephone us to say 'no' then,” said Capello. “It was only when he was in the 23 that he said no.”