| David Beckham exults after John Terry scored against Brazil during a friendly at Wembley on Friday. The match ended 1-1. (AFP)
After coming within a few seconds of inspiring England’s first win over Brazil for 17 years, David Beckham reflected on his contribution to an entertaining 1-1 draw on Friday night by claiming that he can still not be sure of his place under Steve McClaren.
An injury-time equaliser from Diego denied Beckham a comic-strip return to the national team in the first senior international played at the new Wembley after the former captain had created England’s goal for his successor, John Terry heading home at the far post in 68th minute from a pinpoint free kick.
Beckham will also take his place after an impressive England performance marred only by the crowd’s booing of Frank Lampard, but after being dropped by McClaren at the start of the season, Beckham is refusing to look too far ahead.
“It was a historic night and it was great to be back out there,” Beckham said. “I don’t know if the crowd was louder when I came out or went off. It’s always nice to have the support of the fans like that. I’ve always felt I’ve had to fight for my place, not just this week. I’ve always thought that whoever you are, whatever your name is, you have to fight for your place. I’ve always done that.”
McClaren uttered similar sentiments, but the head coach will feel vindicated after his controversial decision to recall a player he still considers to be one of the world’s best in his position.
“I brought Beckham back because he was playing well,” McClaren said. “Beckham is a player who, when he’s playing well, there’s no better right-sided player in the world and he showed that tonight. His delivery was exceptional and JT doesn’t miss those. It was fitting and apt — it’s just a pity we didn’t win the game.
“Many people questioned the decision and there’s been a great debate this week. We picked David Beckham because of David Beckham the player and how he plays on the field. And certainly in his recent performances for Real Madrid he looked fit and strong and deserves his place in the squad and the team.”
Anything other than a convincing win in Tallinn will render Friday’s night’s progress irrelevant. The return of Beckham has helped to restore a feel-good factor to the squad after recent setbacks, but the momentum must be maintained.
“The most important thing is that we get three points [against Estonia] and the feeling in the squad is great,” Beckham said. “They are a great bunch of lads, very free-spirited, and I’m sure we’ll be OK.
“There was never any question about me taking free-kicks. I’ve been practising all week and it was never a problem. Steve gave me the nod. I’ve had all the attention for ten years, six as captain, so I have enjoyed being more relaxed this week. I was in the toilet beforehand so was last out of the dressing-room, but it wasn’t deliberate. It wasn’t nerves — I always go to the toilet a lot before games.”