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Football
Beckham misses out on Olympic spot
Former England captain 'disappointed' after being omitted out of Great Britain Olympic football squad.
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2012 14:15
Beckham had said he wanted to be picked on his own merit, not as a ‘shirt sale’ or ‘stadium filler’ [GALLO/GETTY]

David Beckham has not been selected in Britain's Olympic football squad in a huge blow for the former England captain's hopes of crowning the twilight of his career in style.

The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder had been widely expected to be named as one of the three over-age players in Stuart Pearce's Under-23 squad for the London Games in July and August.

"Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me," Beckham, 37, said in quotes relayed by his spokesman on Thursday.

British media reports said Manchester United's long-serving Welsh winger Ryan Giggs, Wales striker Craig Bellamy and Manchester City right back Micah Richards, who missed out on England's Euro 2012 campaign, had been chosen.

There was no official word on why coach Pearce had overlooked Beckham who has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan in a glittering career that has brought titles in England and Spain as well as the United States.

He watched Beckham play for the Galaxy recently having included him in his initial 35-man squad. 

The announcement for the final 18-man squad is due next week.

Beckham told reporters last month: "I don't want to be picked on a shirt sale or a stadium filler. I want to be picked because of what I can bring to the team."

Big name

Beckham was England's most capped outfield player with 115 appearances but has not played for the national team since 2009. The world famous trend-setter had accepted his time with England was over despite not officially retiring from the international game with the London Olympics in sight.

As a globally recognised figure, he has had a major role both in London winning the Olympics and in the build-up to the Games, helping bring the flame back from Greece. He had been tipped by media to light the stadium cauldron when the Games begin in his east London birthplace on July 27.

This now looks unlikely while he definitely will not be able to be the British flag bearer at the opening ceremony as he is not competing.

Critics who believe football has an uneasy place in the Games because of the vast sums of money professionals earn had said they would be uncomfortable with the Olympics becoming a "David Beckham show".

The Olympic football tournament, originally designed for amateurs but now the only Games event to have an age limit, is not so highly regarded in Europe where the World Cup and European Championship are seen as the elite tests.

Olympic football is popular among South American players, however.

Hosts Britain, taking part in their first Olympic football finals since 1960, will kick off their bid for gold against Senegal at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium on July 26.

The Welsh Football Association, along with the Scots and Northern Irish, have worried that the inclusion of their players in a rare British squad for the Games could affect their football independence but football's world governing body FIFA has tried to allay their fears.

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Source:
Reuters
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