No David Beckham for England this World Cup. So what?
England soccer legend David Beckham – arguably the biggest British import since the Beatles – suffered an heel injury Sunday night that is expected to prevent him from playing in June's World Cup.
A bit of England died Sunday night.
Hero, patriot, legend, hearthrob, He Who Bends It will not be playing in the World Cup.
"THE END OF THE WORLD" screamed one tabloid.
After the 50-minute-operation was completed Monday afternoon, the surgeon said Beckham required at least four to five months recovery.
But how much will Beckham's absence really hurt team England at the World Cup starting in June?
Short answer: Not much.
"England under [Italian coach Fabio Capello] can go all the way, with or without Becks. They have the talent and the coach needed. ... Beckham was a sidebar."
Few disagree with this assessment.
"The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder has remained a mainstay of newspaper coverage worldwide and his movie star looks still help attract huge crowds wherever he goes, but he will be 35 when this year's tournament kicks off on June 11," writes the Associated Press. "Younger and faster players are on hand to fill his preferred position on the right of midfield and he was only going to be an occasional substitute for his country – albeit the most high-profile bench-warmer in South Africa."
A number of younger, albeit less handsome, players are ready to take Beckham's role on the right side of the field, including: Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips, David Bentley, and Steven Gerrard.
Times Online soccer correspondent Oliver Kay writes that "there are probably a dozen or so players whose absence would be very damaging for England and Beckham is not one of them, despite remaining in some ways the biggest name in the squad."
Even in 2007 when Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy for $50 million a year, the Monitor wrote: "It is hardly debatable which will be the more important addition to Major League Soccer: David Beckham's dreamy hair or his somewhat-less-photogenic right foot."
Still, Beckham's famous passing and crossing ability and his deadly mastery of free kicks could have come in handy as a substitute near the end of key games.
Then there's the X-factor.
Beckham has been the centerpiece of England's top-level international efforts for the past decade and a half – including the last three World Cups – and his veteran presence on the field could just add that spark, that je ne sais quoi.
Well, it could have.
Now younger and faster men will have to fill his boots...er, cleats.
And if it's just a matter of shoe size, why all the angst?