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Beckham's grandfather dies

LONDON, December 3- David Beckham's grandfather died Wednesday, his agent said, but the England midfielder is expected to stay in South Africa where he is helping sell England's bid for the 2018 World Cup.DAVID_BECKHAM_1_"His grandfather passed away this morning, but we ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy at this time," his spokesman Simon Oliveira told AFP.

Joseph West, 83, who died after battling a serious illness, was very close to Beckham and is credited with having had a formative influence on the star player’s early career, reports said.

A friend of the player said that unless the funeral takes place in the next couple of days, Beckham is expected to continue his schedule in South Africa.

"His grandfather would have wanted him to continue to fulfill his duty to his country," the friend said.

Beckham is the key in selling England’s struggling bid for the 2018 World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Wednesday.

Blatter met Beckham in Cape Town ahead of England’s presentation this week of their bid credentials to the world’s media and football’s powerbrokers.

Beckham, who hopes to be in Fabio Capello’s squad for the 2010 World Cup, has taken on the role of official ambassador for England’s bid in an attempt to convince FIFA executives to award them a first World Cup since 1966.

Beckham, one of the few players to score in three World Cups, will take part in Friday’s draw for next year’s competition.

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