As David Beckham aims to become Team GB football captain at this summer’s London Olympics, an expert tells Channel 4 News the star is driven by “Brand Beckham”, as well as national pride.
At a press conference in which the 36-year-old revealed he will be staying at LA Galaxy for another two years, the former England skipper hinted he has already been assured a place in the GB squad this summer.
“It is great that we have Galaxy boss Bruce Arena on board if I am gone for that time,” Beckham said.
He added: “I have never played in the Olympics and I know how exciting it is for our nation to have the Olympics in the East End of London, especially for me growing up in the East End.
“To lead the team into the Olympics would be special for any player,” said Beckham, who captained England 59 times.
So, is David Beckham’s Olympic dream really about national pride and representing his nation? Or, is it to promote “Brand Beckham”? Or both?
Football expert Professor Tom Cannon told Channel 4 News Beckham has a huge sense of national pride.
“I think he wants to provide some inspiration to a young British team,” he explained.
“He was very emotional about the England captaincy and he has a very strong sense of the nation.”
He added that having Beckham on board would help the squad: “I’ve never met a player who has played alongside him, who hasn’t felt inspired by him. There is a degree to which his presence in the GB squad would enhance its performance.”
Beckham is very English, so Scottish, Welsh and Irish football fans might not be so glad to see him in the squad. Professor Tom Cannon
Professor Cannon explained the “Brand Beckham” factor is also key in his desire to captain the side.
He said: “Brand Beckham is one of the best brands Britain has ever developed, and to be honest it’s getting a bit old – so of course he wants to promote that to an extent. Beckham probably won’t ever play for an English side again, so there is definitely the element of a ‘last hurrah’ in wanting to play in the Olympics.”
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However, Professor Cannon added Beckham is “very English, so Scottish, Welsh and Irish football fans might not be so glad to see him in the squad.”
Indeed, a row is developing over whether or not Scottish players should play for Great Britain’s football team in the Olympics.
Scottish Football Association Chief Executive Stewart Regan has signalled Scotland’s Olympic football hopefuls could suffer the wrath of the Tartan Army if they want to play for Team GB. David Macdonald, who runs Scottish football website www.pieandbovril.com told Channel 4 News there are increasing fears that one day there will be no such thing as a Scottish team.
“Fans here are worried that with Scottish players being part of Team GB, Fifa will question whether there is any point in having separate sides at all. We fear that one day Scotland will no longer play as its own nation in the World Cup.”
However, when we asked him whether or not David Beckham should captain the British side in the Olympics, he said: “People in Scotland really couldn’t care less about football in the Olympics or who is captain of the side. We’re trying to distance ourselves as much as possible.”