LONDON, August 12 – England coach Fabio Capello virtually called time on David Beckham's international career on Wednesday.
Beckham was unable to play in the World Cup due to an Achilles injury suffered while on loan at AC Milan in March, but the LA Galaxy midfielder had hoped to return to England duty when he was fully fit.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star went to the World Cup as part of Capello’s backroom staff but the Italian, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Hungary at Wembley, made it clear there was little chance of a recall for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
"I say thank you very much for helping me at the World Cup but probably he is a little bit old," Capello told ITV.
If Capello is true to his word, the 35-year-old former England captain will end his international career with 115 caps, the most number for any England outfield player but 10 short of Peter Shilton’s overall national record.
Beckham played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 editions of the World Cup, but he was never able to enjoy his best form at the tournament.
Arguably the most famous moment of Beckham’s England career came in the 2002 World Cup qualifier against Greece at Old Trafford when his superb performance and last-gasp free-kick secured a place in the finals.
In the 1998 tournament he was sent off for a needless kick at Argentina’s Diego Simeone during a last-16 match that England lost on penalties, with Beckham vilified for his role in the defeat when he returned home.
England were never able to get past the quarter-finals of any tournament with Beckham as captain and he surrendered the skipper’s armband at an emotional press conference after the 2006 World Cup.
It seemed Beckham’s international career was over when Steve McClaren left him out of his first squads after replacing Sven Goran Eriksson as England coach in 2006.
Thinking his England days were finished, Beckham quit Real Madrid and moved to America, but he fought his way back into the international team soon after and was a regular member of Capello’s group for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.