Pearce on Beckham: I know how much it meant to him
July, 3, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Stuart Pearce is convinced he's made the correct decision in not including David Beckham on Great Britain's 18-man roster for the London Olympics, but that doesn't mean he has no empathy for the Galaxy star.
And there's a chance, indeed slim, that Beckham could feature after all.
“I've got a vast amount of respect for David and what he has done in bringing the Olympics to these shores,” Pearce told media Monday, when he officially announced his roster. “I have to be comfortable that I've made decisions on footballing grounds alone. Not on personality, or who I like as individuals. This is the strongest squad that's available to me to select. ...
“I feel very sorry for David. I know how much it meant to him. I do understand that.”
Beckham, who played a pivotal role in bringing the Olympics to his hometown and served in an ambassadorial role for the organizing committee, had been expected to be one of three over-23 players on the unified Great Britain roster, but Pearce opted for Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, Manchester United's Ryan Giggs and Manchester City's Micah Richards instead.
Beckham broke the news with a statement last week that he was “very disappointed” to miss out on the Olympics, “but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”
Said Pearce: “There's no doubt David had a burning ambition to be part of this -- he said it many times before. The other 18 players had the same burning ambition, the three overage players especially -- they have been absolutely desperate to be part of this.”
Pearce, who played more than a decade for England's national team before going into management, acknowledged that Beckham could join the team should one of the overage players need to pull out with injury, but the 37-year-old midfielder's name won't be on the initial list of alternates that he submits Friday because “unless an overage player gets injured, I can't bring another one in.”
Pearce said he hadn't spoken to Beckham about this.
“I've spoken with every other player and said, 'Look, that is the requirement we look for,' ” Pearce said. "David, being the ultimate professional that he is, I'd very much be surprised if he said he wouldn't want to be on that standby list.”