Beckham quits England captaincy
Posted: Sunday, July 2, 2006. 8:13pm AEST
An emotional David Beckham has resigned as England captain after nearly six years following his side's World Cup quarter-final exit to Portugal.
Beckham was close to tears as he read from a prepared statement at England's training camp in southern Germany to confirm his decision to step down.
He said he hoped to continue as a player for England, but not as captain.
"On November 15, 2000 Peter Taylor gave me the greatest honour of my career in making me the captain of England, fulfilling my childhood dream," the Real Madrid superstar said.
"Now, almost six years later, after being captain for 58 of my 95 caps, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter in a new era under Steve McClaren.
"It has been an honour and a privilage to have captained our country and I want to stress that I wish to continue to play for England and look forward to helping both the new captain and Steve McClaren in any way I can."
In fact, Beckham has won 94 caps, not 95.
While Beckham scored with a trademark free kick against Ecuador, he has had an average World Cup by his standards and some commentators have even called for him to be axed altogether.
While arguably still one of the most accurate strikers of a ball at set pieces, his lack of pace has been evident.
Once England's golden boy, and the darling of the media along with wife Victoria, he has seen that accolade taken away by the emergence of Wayne Rooney, further eroding his position as Sven-Goran Eriksson's main man.
McClaren, the former Middlesbrough manager, takes over from Eriksson as coach with immediate effect after the Swede bowed out following five-and-a-half years in charge, but his choice of captain has not been made known.
Eriksson said he was surprised at the decision, and praised Beckham.
"He's been a very good captain and very proud to do the job," he said. "I was a bit surprised when he told me but you have to respect his decision.
"It is now Steve McClaren's job to decide on Beckham's successor. He has a lot of choices that are more than capable of doing the job. It is very much up to him."
Beckham, who earns an estimated $A43 million a year, said he took his decision some time ago.
"I came to this decision some time ago but I had hoped to annnounce it on the back of a successful World Cup. Sadly that wasn't to be," he said.
"This decision has been the most difficult of my career to date. But after discussing it with my family and those closest to me I feel the time is right."
Beckham said the team was devastated by their failure to move beyond the quarter-finals, but that he was proud of his time as captain.
"Our performance during this World Cup has not been enough to progress further and both myself and all the players regret that and are hurt by that more than people realise," he said.
"I wish to thank all the players for their support during my time as captian, as well as Peter Taylor, Sven and all the coaches.
"I would also like to thank the press and of course all the England supporters who have both been great to me and my teammates. I want them to know for me it has been an absolute honour.
"Finally, I have lived the dream, I am extremely proud to have worn the armband and been captain of England and for that I will also be grateful."
At 31, it was almost certainly to be Beckham's last World Cup and it has all ended in bitter disappointment.