When new England head coach Fabio Capello left David Beckham out of the squad that confronts Switzerland in an international friendly on February 6, there were a number of key figures amidst the football community who voiced their disapproval of the Italian hardliner’s decision. After all, Becks has 99 caps and one more would lift him to the elite 100-club.
But as ESPN Soccernet reports, former England goalkeeper and legend Peter Shilton supports Capello’s decision. He accepts Capello’s reason that Becks is out of match practice even though he has been training with Arnsenal for the past month or so.
Shilton says to the BBC’s Five Live programme:
His first priority is to get a squad that’s capable of winning the World Cup and he’s been known for his strict attitude towards players. It would have looked a bit weak from his point of view to have included David in terms of his preparation for the game. If it had been any other player, I don’t even think he would have even considered it. Capello has not been intimidated by any outside forces to include David in the squad. He’s not completely shut the door but it is going to be very difficult from now on for David. It is not a circus, you don’t give caps away. I like to think I earned every one of mine. I don’t think David would like to be given his 100th cap just for the sake of it. You have got to earn them. David went to the United States and it was his decision. He maybe thought his England career was over anyway and it was a good opportunity to expand his interests. But then when he got back into the England squad, maybe it backfired a bit on him. The door is not completely closed but it will be more difficult because Capello will get younger players in his squad and he has to look two years along the line. David has got to get fit in the States and be playing really well, so you never know. I certainly hope he does get his 100th cap but it has to be on merit – you can’t just give it to him.
Shilton is right in underlining the point that all players should earn the right to play for their country but isn’t it a bit unfair on Beckham to keep him waiting for his 100th cap when Capello could easily have accommodated the LA Galaxy midfielder in his squad and put him on the pitch against the Swiss as a substitute?