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Lost and found

David Beckham is preparing for his proudest moment in football. It is an honour for anyone to lead out their country in a World Cup, and Beckham freely admits to being both emotional and patriotic, yet for the sole focus of England’s hopes and fears in the last couple of weeks there is a lot more to it than that.

‘To lead out not just any England team, but this England team, is going to be a special moment for me,’ the captain says. ‘Never in my wildest dreams could I have believed four years ago that I could get back up to this level. The turnaround for me over the last four years has just been amazing, and I think this team is definitely better than ’98.

‘Even though we have had replacements, there is no one making up the numbers. They are all so young and talented, and while there were times in the past when players may have gone on to the pitch feeling nervous, there are no nerves at all with this team. When you are young you don’t worry. With the talent in this squad you can just go out and play.’

Beckham is hardly ancient at 27, especially for a captain, though he has been through a lot. He claims what happened against Argentina four years ago changed him as a person and as a player, yet even some of his closest friends would be hard pushed to say how. Beckham’s great achievement through all the highs and lows of his England career has been to stay exactly the same. He is rightly winning accolades and earning compliments for his assured and upbeat utterances as England captain, when all he is actually doing is allowing his natural ebullience to shine through.

Perhaps he is lucky to follow the dour and suspicious Alan Shearer, but Beckham’s honesty and enthusiasm are quite infectious. He positively gleams with health and glows with good humour: England have a captain who amounts to a one-man charm offensive.

‘I was having a massage the other night and Sol Campbell was next to me,’ he says. ‘We used to play together at Tottenham when we were 13 or 14. I said to him: “Can you believe this? Being at a World Cup together? Twelve years ago I was wearing a Manchester United kit, you were wearing a Tottenham kit, and I was running rings around you”.’

One has the feeling that Beckham does not quite believe it himself. From pariah to feted captain in four years is quite a journey, after all. The recovery began in the St Etienne dressing room, after England’s penalty shoot-out defeat by Argentina, when Tony Adams was the only England player to put a consoling arm around Beckham and tell him the red card was just one of those things. ‘I’ll always be grateful to Tony for that,’ says Beckham. At that time, though, he did not appreciate what lay in store for him on his return to England.

‘It was horrible for a while. There were threats to me and my family, which was hard, but mostly it was just what people canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland were saying about me which was upsetting. Especially for my family. My mum, dad, nan and granddad were going through it more than I was. There were times when I felt like walking away, but football is what I love doing. Without that I am are there any canada goose outlet stores lost. The most important thing to me is my family, but without football I’m a lost man.

‘I’ve been lost for the past seven weeks because I haven’t been able to do anything. Four years ago even the thought of playing abroad went through my mind, because people were telling me I wouldn’t be able to go to certain grounds in England. I was a 23-year-old boy wanting to play football for the team I love and people were saying I wouldn’t be able to do it in safety. But one of the first people to call me was Alex Ferguson. He said, “Don’t worry, son. Just get yourself back to Manchester to the people that love you and you’ll be fine”.’ best canada goose coat for women

So it proved, although it was in Liverpool, not Manchester, that Beckham finally understood his ordeal was over – when England beat Finland at Anfield in March last year. ‘I never thought I would never play for England again, because I knew I had the ability to get back into any squad,’ he says. ‘Winning over the supporters was the hardest task. At that time Manchester United players used to get quite a lot of stick from Wembley crowds, which was always hard.

‘Anfield is the point I look back on. There were 40 or 50 thousand people singing “There’s only one David Beckham” and that was coming from the Kop. I thought that was amazing. And the most rewarding thing was winning people over with my football. I could have done interview after canada goose coat 1000 interview to try to explain myself, but doing it on the pitch counts for more. I thank my family and amazon canada goose jacket friends for that. In that sort of situation you can either go home and cry, which I felt like doing at times click over here, or you come out fighting. I was lucky to have the people around me who encouraged me to come out and fight. I worked hard at it, to get where I am today.’

Since the World Cup draw threw up Argentina once again Beckham has had to watch replays of his dismissal in France a hundred more times, but it no longer has any effect. buy canada goose jacket london ‘It’s past, I’ve put it to the back of my mind, totally,’ he insists. Nor does Diego Simeone loom particularly large in Beckham’s worst nightmares. Four years on, the Argentine he most fears canada goose coat 1000 bulbs reviews is the one who plays alongside him at Old Trafford.

‘Seba [Ver??n] could destroy us. A player of his ability could destroy any team,’ Beckham maintains. ‘I think a lot of the criticism he came in for last season was unfair, and I know a lot of people at Manchester United think it was unfair. To say it was a mistake buying him is ridiculous, he is one of the best midfielders in the world. People say he is going to leave, but I’ve no doubt he will stay at Manchester United.

‘There were times last season when he wasn’t playing in the position where he normally plays for Argentina, and he gets forward a lot more burlington coat factory canada goose coat for Argentina, as he did for Lazio. Maybe he wasn’t happy, but the important thing is that he is upbeat about the situation. He doesn’t understand much English so he probably doesn’t see what people are saying about him anyway, but I find it incredible that the people who are saying he is can you machine wash canada goose jacket a costly mistake are the same people who were saying he was going to be player of the year and world footballer of the year at the start of the season.

‘I definitely don’t think there’s a problem with Seba or the way he plays; he can pass, run, shoot and he’s got a great engine. The manager’s support has been of massive importance too. All players, but especially foreigners and young sters, need a manger who is going to stick up for you whatever happens. Our manager is like that.’

It is possible that Veron will feel he has something to prove to English football on Friday, though it is also true that the whole of English football feels it has something to prove to Argentina.

‘We have enough good players to cope,’ Beckham says. ‘There is plenty of Champions League experience in the squad, and if Seba plays well it is just something we will have to overcome. You have got to watch out for other teams’ best players, and Seba is definitely one of theirs. We have just got to play the game, not the hype, and keep our nerve. I don’t know if they will try to wind us up or not. I heard Maradona say in an interview the other day that Argentina were not better players than us four years ago, they were just more cunning, and maybe that’s right.’

The captain’s anyone has got canada goose coat belief that England are better players now is fuelled in no small part by one resounding victory in Munich, even if results since have been far more mundane.

‘That doesn’t bother us,’ he says. ‘The fact that we know we can play like that is nice to have in our locker. It is disappointing we have not produced anything like that since, but we know we did it in a massive game. It is hard to read anything into the last few friendlies because there have been so many changes. The focus has been drifting away from the team, it has been more on injuries, but now it’s back on the team.

‘I feel like it’s my England team again now. I missed that more than anything when I was injured, the banter and being involved with the players. I have a lot of affection for all the players, and would have even if I were not the captain. One of Alex Ferguson’s sayings is that you need to be able to turn to the player next to you and feel lucky that he is in your team. I can do that for every one of our players.

‘I don’t feel under any pressure, when it is thrown at me I feel I can kick it back. I just feel proud to be England captain. We are going out for a win, and we are not going into any game worrying about the other team. That is how the coaching staff want us to be. We’re a good team and our expectations are high. With the players we have our expectations should be high’.

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