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Love him or loathe him? That is the question.

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An interesting article on the Sky Sports Website....


David Beckham's record-equalling night in Seville has split opinion between those who say it would be churlish not to join in the celebrations, before acting churlishly, and those that eschew congratulations altogether and skip straight to churlishness.


Embrace not his unbridled efforts, his virtuoso display against Greece to qualify England for the 2002 World Cup but instead offer hollow applause that sneers of 'style over substance', as if he has single-handedly been the architect of every failing of the national side since winning a first cap against Moldova in 1996.


That Beckham's substitute appearance - in a game that demonstrated why Spain are European champions and England still a work in progress - equalled World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore's record number of caps for an outfield player appears to be a moot point.


There can be no denying Moore's greatness. An exemplary leader with a charismatic glint in his eye, the West Ham and Fulham stalwart drew nothing but praise from such luminaries as Franz Beckenbauer and Pele, with the latter hailing him 'as the greatest defender I ever played against'. That he was perennially described as a gentleman only adds to the charm.


Indeed the image of Moore and Pele swapping shirts after a gargantuan clash between the pair, in the sweltering Mexico heat of the 1970 World Cup, is as iconic as has ever been caught on film and yet, is it not to do a disservice to Beckham's achievement by first filtering it through a veil of historic perspective that by its very nature is sentimental and unforgiving to later generations?


Beckham, of course, is not just a footballer. His extra-curricular activities that include a panache for draping his naked torso over the cover of Attitude and having his manhood blown up to such epic proportions grown men have fainted with nausea upon being presented with the obligatory Christmas gift of Calvin Kleins, pushed Sir Alex Ferguson to boiling and eventually selling-point during their tumultuous time together at Old Trafford. It certainly deflects from the football and does him few favours.


How much of the glitz and ostentatious glamour is his making and how much is his wife's, or more pertinently PR guru Simon Fuller's (whose time they share) is subject to conjecture. However, even the staunchest of advocates accept Beckham loves the limelight. While on the field he'd argue his exploits for England recall Socrates' neat line of 'Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds', off it perhaps he's more Madonna: 'I won't be happy till I'm as famous as God.'


The point is that Beckham's non-sporting activities rankle. And yet, only a cursory glance at YouTube unearths vintage sixties gold, as Mr and Mrs Moore exude the virtues of a trip to the local pub, in a television advert no different to Beckham's for Gillette. He's not wearing Police sunglasses or a Dolce and Gabbana suit but he looks pretty dapper and Mrs Moore would certainly give Posh a run for her money.


Beckham is a product of his time; a consciousness that embraces the celebrity and banal in an era that he has defined and spun for his own means. But as a footballer he does not deserve to be pilloried or have his achievement undermined by unfavourable comparisons to a figure such as Moore, whom very few could match.


For sure the England sides he's played in and often captained have been suffocated by the grip of expectation and excelled only in underachievement but in reality, he is more symbol than cause of such events. At times he has looked wooden in pace and the move to Los Angeles was ill-conceived, ego-fuelled and arguably should have signalled the end of an international career, at the time shy of the century mark.


And yet, now, rejuvenated by a spell in the relative sedate surrounds of Italian football at AC Milan, where the mantra is one of 'though shall not lose the ball', Beckham is thriving again. Key will be whether he will be able to engineer a permanent exit from LA and kiss goodbye to Hollywood in favour of reality.


England are making genuine progress under Fabio Capello but while ball retention remains the proverbial Achilles heel, the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon, James Milner and Theo Walcott offer alternatives that are energetic but shy of international nous.


He's unlikely to be a starter any time soon, cue more criticism of caps that lasted less than 90 minutes, but his experience and delivery will continue to be utilised. There was no fanfare or trumpeters to herald Beckham's introduction as a half-time substitute in Seville, 'right wing' was probably all he got off Capello. But the Italian has genuine respect for a 33-year-old he flipped to the scrapheap, without complaint, before recalling in times of struggle during their title-winning campaign together at Real Madrid.


Beckham has been and remains a fine footballer and ambassador for his country. Reaching 108 caps is cause for celebration and while he'll almost certainly never guide England to World Cup glory, it's worth remembering only 17 other footballers have matched Bobby Moore's achievement of lifting football's golden prize.


He may not be Bobby, but he's not a bad alternative either.


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there's no comparison. different sport, different world.


well done to the lad, he's taken having a really silly voice and possible learning difficulties to surrounding himself with some very savvy advisors and is a very rich man. still sounds gayer than a door though.

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He would have been well past it by now if McLaren hadn't been such a Twat.

So would Bobby Charlton, who was dropped because it was thought he would be too old for the next world cup.

Wasn't there a similar thing about Shilton as he was a keeper and expected to play on longer than an outfield player?

If i'm paying

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Both great players. As Treeboy says both played in different worlds. Lucky enough to see both of them play. Met Bobby Moore many times and saw David Beckham score his first England goal. The game changes and in twenty years time the same argument will be going on with a different player.

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