The Capello connection

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  • Published 19.12.07

London: Had Fabio Capello been appointed England manager last January, David Beckham’s international future would have been widely written off.

His career at Real Madrid seemed finished when Capello said that his decision to join the Los Angeles Galaxy meant that he would never again play for the club.

“A player who has such an important contract with another club, we cannot count on him,” said Capello. Yet by June, the transformation was complete. Beckham had quietly proved his dedication on the training pitch and Capello duly played him regularly in a team that put together a fantastic run to clinch the league title.

Capello is not known for dishing out excessive praise to his players, but his words on Monday suggested a genuine respect for the former England captain. “A great man,” he said. “When David Beckham sets his mind to something, he will usually achieve it.”

Beckham has set his mind to playing in the World Cup, when he will be 35, and Capello has clearly not dismissed that possibility. Beckham’s greatest attribute has always been his crossing ability rather than electric pace and, even if he is unable to play a full 90 minutes, his potential impact as a substitute is clear.

Beckham and Peter Crouch were the two players to come out of the defeat against Croatia with any credit and it would be a surprise if he were not given the chance to lead England out for his 100th cap against Switzerland on February 6.

In the longer term, much will depend on the opinion of Capello’s fitness trainer, Massimo Neri. Neri is an expert on the conditioning of players and, having worked with Beckham in Madrid, will come armed with extensive statistical records against which any physical decline since joining the Galaxy can be measured.