The short, argumentative life of the British men’s Olympic football team that disappointed David Beckham

The Scottish FA did not even attend the meetings.

The Welsh FA went to a couple, then withdrew.

And the Irish FA, concerned about the interests of Northern Ireland, has said it doesn’t want anything to do with it.

But with the support of FIFA and the united collective will of many who were not afraid to voice their opinions, Great Britain decided to enter a football team in the men’s competition at the London 2012 Olympics. , the first time she had done it in 52 years.

It was happening, and there was nothing a dissenting voice could do about it.

And so, having decided that this was happening, now was the time to decide who was going to play it.

And David Beckham was desperate to play.

Many thought he deserved it.

Beckham was involved in the tender team


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As one of the most recognizable faces in world sport, Beckham had played a key ambassadorial role when London won the bid to host the Games, shaking the right hand and speaking to the right people as the presided team. by Lord Sebastian Coe and backed by Boris Johnson defeated Paris to secure victory amid a wave of popular support.

And for Beckham, it wasn’t just about getting the games for Britain, it was about getting them for East London.

“I was saying last night that I was canoeing on the Lea River. The whole region is going to be transformed,” he said the day after the bid won in 2005.

“It’s not just about the east of the country – it’s not just London. It’s going to transform the whole country. Having the Olympics in London – it’s something special.”

After doing his civic duty, Beckham returned to his day job, playing for Real Madrid for two more seasons before moving to LA Galaxy at the age of 32. It was probably a little too early.

Beckham has been loaned to AC Milan twice



Indeed, his two brief loan spells with AC Milan in early 2009 and early 2010 implied just that, and with Beckham aspiring to a place back on the European stage, he clearly had an eye on the Games.

Then, as 2012 started, he made sure that it was stipulated in his new Galaxy contract that he could play in the games if selected.

But he wasn’t just thinking about playing, he wanted to be the captain.

With Olympic football teams made up of a squad of 18, only three of whom could be over 23, it was decided that England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce would be the best figure to lead this new team assembled in haste.

Indeed, by the end of 2011, the whole idea of ​​”Football Team GB” had largely become English, such was the concern of the other nations of origin as to their potential loss of identity.

While the idea of ​​a women’s team participating in games – as is the case in Tokyo – was considered logical due to the opportunity to raise the profile of the sport across the country, for men it seemed the fear and disgust were much more important.

Stuart Pearce has been chosen to coach the team



It doesn’t matter.

The English FA were running the squad now, and after appointing Pearce they started trying to form a squad.

With England’s team for the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament being considered banned, Pearce reportedly initially polled 191 players to ask if they wanted to play, to which seven said no.

Beckham was of course among those who said yes, joining Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, who had seen his place in England swept away by the row surrounding John Terry and his brother Anton.

Further cuts brought the shortlist down to 80, then 35, and Beckham was still there.

“I would love to be a captain,” Beckham said in January 2012.

“I have ruled my country before and I know how special it would be to lead them to the Olympics.”

But then heartache.

“It was not an easy task to finalize my squad for this tournament, and the stature of the competition and the uniqueness of the occasion underscored the importance of every choice I made,” said Pearce. in July 2012.

It was a squad of 13 England and five Welsh players, two of whom – Giggs and Craig Bellamy – were among the three major players allowed, with Micah Richards the other.

Ryan Giggs has been chosen as the captain of the GB team


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There was no Beckham.

“Of course, I am very disappointed, but there will be no greater supporter of the team than I,” was the predictable response of a statesman.

“I would have been honored to be part of this unique team of Team GB. Like everyone else, I hope they can win gold.”

Beckham’s sense of disappointment was felt elsewhere as well, as many felt the games presented the perfect opportunity for him to step down after an illustrious career at the highest level, but Pearce had refused to give in to the pressure.

When asked directly if he was encouraged to choose Beckham by talkSPORT last year, Pearce replied, “Oh, like you’d never know.

“Honestly it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life, definitely the hardest football decision I have ever had to make.

“I think discussions took place knowing that adidas was sponsoring the games, the kit and that they were also the sponsor of David.

“I think there were also conversations between David’s agent and the FA about his captain position – all of these things were happening behind my back.

Beckham should settle for an Olympics watch briefing


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“And I even believe that once I made the decision not to be part of the team, it was even mentioned in Downing Street whether it was the right decision or not, and whether they owed me. replace as manager – as I understand it!

“Hey [Beckham] was not happy, and you can see why. If he was happy about it, he wouldn’t be the man we all know he is. “

Pearce was not a popular man, so the team had to deliver for him.

To avoid having to go to the Wikipedia page, the entire team was:

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jason Steele.

Defenders: Neil Taylor, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Caulker, Craig Dawson, James Tomkins, Micah Richards (overtake)

Midfielder : Danny Rose, Tom Cleverley, Joe Allen, Ryan Giggs (captain, surplus), Jack Cork, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Sinclair

Forward: Daniel Sturridge, Craig Bellamy (excess), Marvin Sordell

Craig Bellamy was one of the over-aged players on the squad


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An eclectic group then, but not exactly a poor one.

Backed by the support of the local public as they played matches at Old Trafford, Wembley and Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, they had to go far in the competition.

A behind-the-scenes warm-up match against Mexico ended in a 1-0 loss, however, and then when Brazil beat them 2-0 at Riverside Stadium in the final pre-tournament friendly – helped by a penalty kick of Neymar – suddenly there was concern that this side wasn’t really good at all.

When the real thing started they started with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Senegal at Old Trafford, where Bellamy’s first goal was called off by Moussa Konate for a Senegalese side with a lively 20-year-old called Sadio. Mane.

The United Arab Emirates fought for more than an hour at Wembley until, with scores stuck at 1-1, Sinclair and Sturridge both scored late goals to see GB bounce back into the next one. Luis Suarez’s match against Uruguay in Cardiff. Sturridge – who would be Suarez’s attacking partner at Liverpool six months later – scored the only goal.

Daniel Sturridge would miss the decisive penalty


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South Korea in the quarter-finals at that point, and just as the nation was starting to heat up about this team going all the way – “We never planned to win the tournament.” said Pearce – they didn’t. .

Ji Dong-won, then of Sunderland, had given the Koreans the lead in Cardiff, but after a penalty from Aaron Ramsey equalized the scores, he missed another later as the match ended in a shooting.

Nine players scored there, but Sturridge missed.

“It has been a fantastic experience,” Pearce said after the loss.

“All the individuals who have contributed go back to their clubs and countries better for it.

“I am very proud of my players and what we have accomplished in the four weeks we have spent together.”

It might only have lasted four weeks, but it lasted seven years.

But now he’s gone and largely forgotten.

Although certainly not by Beckham.

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