This weekend, David Beckham was unveiled as an AC Milan player during the Rossoneri's 5-1 home victory over Udinese. While it is yet another example of Brand Beckham embarking on a new project, as the boy from Leytonstone further cements his status as a global icon, the move is essential for Beckham the player. The star will be looking to regain his match-fitness and prove to Fabio Capello he is worthy of a place in the next England squad for the qualifier against Ukraine. If selected, he will pick up his 108th cap and in doing so equal Bobby Moore's outfield record.
Much has been said and written regarding Beckham's unerring quest to continue to represent his country. There are some claiming his desire to clock up as many caps as possible is to reach yet another milestone, to add a further achievement and celebrity, and that his selection by Capello in recent qualifiers has been purely for sentimental reasons. But why should he give up his dream of representing his country? His services to our nation, both on and off the field, not to mention his truly amicable charity work, places Beckham in a category that few can be associated with. He is a great and as long as he is fit and playing well in Milan, surely he deserves to oust Moore whilst there is the opportunity to do so.
But is this the right thing to do? It may be for humanitarian reasons, but is it the best thing for England? There is no doubting that very few can strike the ball as good as Beckham, and certainly there are few better who can deliver a cross with as much menace and accuracy. However, Capello's decision to play him eight times, and more recently as a cameo substitute, could be called in for scrutiny. There are plenty of talented young right-sided players waiting in the wings (no pun intended). Theo Walcott, David Bentley, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon, James Milner and Ashley Young will all be looking to replace the monopoly Beckham occupies on the right flank long-term.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether a fully fit Beckham is chosen in April ahead of these talented Premier League players. Certainly Walcott has done enough recently to deserve his selection. However, with the young Arsenal man suffering with a dislocation of the shoulder, it looks as though it will be a fight between Beckham and the remaining candidates for the number 7 shirt. Bentley is only just beginning to find form at Whit Hart Lane since his big money move from Blackburn, as is Lennon; and the two certainly look like they are much more comfortable under Harry Redknapp than Juande Ramos. Wright-Phillips has always flattered to deceive in an England shirt, Milner must cement himself in the Villa line-up first and Young, whilst impressing recently for the Villans, is still a work in progress. Come April, if Beckham's move to Milan is proving to be a success, I know who my money will be on to fill in on that right hand side.
Although Beckham has had his fair share of criticism during his career, he has always managed to rise above it. Rebbecca whose? France 98 saw him become one of England's most despised individuals. He responded by helping United win an unprecedented treble the following season, and the next year saw him appointed England captain by the stand-in manager Peter Taylor for a friendly in Italy. He has since shone in Madrid, and despite the America adventure not entirely going to plan, he has certainly boosted the profile of 'soccer' across the pond and will continue to do so whilst out there.
David Beckham is all set for his next challenge, and while his people will be looking to ensure the Italian job runs smoothly, the pretenders will be waiting in the wings. Perhaps Trademark Theo, Product Shaun, Label Lennon or even Variety Young may be the next marketing schemes to tackle to global market. But for now, the Beckham circus must go on. Golden Balls for 108? For now, it is a nobrainer and, more crucially for Brand Beckham, a certainty.