Why They All Hate Planet Beckham; David's World Is Spinning out of Control

Article excerpt


IF David Beckham's life ever becomes a musical (please God, no) there are certain members of the football community who already appear to have a title in mind.

It might sound familiar to followers of the late Anthony Newley, but something along the lines of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off somehow seems appropriate.

Planet Beckham is a place many closest to the England captain are increasingly reluctant to inhabit. Team-mates are growing tired of the chaos that surrounds football's most famous player, and his Manchester United employers and even some at the FA are starting to think along similar lines.

News of his OBE could distance him even further from his peers.

Losing Beckham to suspension for next week's European Championship qualifier against Slovakia is seen by coach Sven Goran Eriksson as a setback, but for the FA officials whose job it is to ensure everything runs smoothly, his absence at least makes life a little easier. As one FA insider remarked earlier this week: 'When Beckham is around we have to alter our entire strategy.' The players find the situation taxing, so much so, in fact, that it has emerged that there was another reason why some of Eriksson's squad declined the invitation to meet Nelson Mandela in South Africa last month.

Quite simply, they had no wish to be extras in the grand production.

Those who did go were disenchanted by the experience. As honoured as they were to shake the hand of South Africa's former president, they found the overwhelming focus on Beckham distasteful. On this, however, FA officials are quick to defend Beckham, claiming that they too were 'hoodwinked' by South African organisers who concerned themselves only with the United midfielder.

The mood among England's players in relation to Beckham, nevertheless, became apparent during Michael Owen's Press conference last Monday.

'I'd like to be famous for being a footballer,' said Owen candidly. …