Hundreds of soccer players will be trying to Bend it Like Beckham at the World Cup in June. But after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, it appears David Beckham will not be one of them.
The English superstar, who injured the tendon on Sunday, faces a grueling recovery process that will most likely keep him sidelined past the World Cup. Many believe Beckham, 34, has played his last game for the English national team.
In past years, Beckham's near-certain absence from soccer's biggest stage would have sent English soccer buffs into throes of despair. But with the veteran midfielder well past his prime, pundits' sympathy has fallen on Beckham, though the cost to the English team has been valued at next to nothing.
- No Beckham. So What? "How much will Beckham's absence really hurt team England at the World Cup starting in June?" muses Matthew Clark at The Christian Science Monitor. "Short answer: Not much." Clark contends Beckham's injury is an opportunity for England to find some much-needed young talent. "Now younger and faster men will have to fill his boots...er, cleats."
- A Little Perspective, Please The Guardian's Rob Smyth has no patience for those who equate Beckham's injury with World Cup disaster for England. "The romantic notion of him seizing the day and inspiring England to glory was poppycock; he simply was not going to start a game," he argues.
- Ample Replacements in the Wings "Beckham was not exactly an integral part of the Capello masterplan but he was an interesting option," admits The Independent's Sam Wallace. That said, Wallace doesn't have to look far to find superior stand-ins. "Given the choice, Capello would sooner have a fit Lennon than a fit Beckham. He would sooner have a fit Ashley Cole or the guarantee that Rio Ferdinand was not about to break down again than a fit Beckham."
- A Heartbreaking End? Writing for ESPN, Harry Harris posits the injury may end Beckham's career and explains how hard that would be for the aging star to swallow.
Beckham's playing career is far more important than any other aspect of his life -- apart from his family. No matter how many cars he has parked in his multitude of homes around the world, irrespective of his assortment of lucrative endorsements, no matter how many tens of millions he has in the bank, the only thing that matters to him right now is the threat to his career and the end of his World Cup dream.