|ESPN.com: Olympics||[Print without images]|
While all the controversy surrounding the Great Britain soccer team revolved around who might not be playing, one exceptionally familiar and aging footballer bucked the trend by offering to sign up for duty -- David Beckham.
|David Beckham will be 37 when the 2012 Olympics roll round.|
The Olympic tournament has idiosyncratic selection rules: 18 players form a squad but only three can be over the age of 23. The structure is designed to prevent it from encroaching on the World Cup's territory.
Beckham, who will be 37 when the 2012 Olympics roll round, has played many roles in his career: hero, villain, savior of the American game, touchline ambassador for the 2010 England World Cup team, unsuccessful lobbyist for the England 2018 World Cup bid. Despite amassing a net worth estimated at $219 million in the process, Beckham evidently still feels a draw to pull on a Great Britain Olympic shirt.
While pundits debate potential Great Britain dream teams involving the likes of Arsenal tandem Aaron Ramsey (Wales) and Jack Wilshere (England) and Manchester United's defensive duo of Chris Smalling (England) and Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland), few etched Beckham's name into the squad. A popular poll on national website Faces of Britain found no room for him on the team, a widespread sentiment which led Olympic organizers to float the notion that he could be considered as a coach.
Don't bet against David. Born and bred around London's East End, he considers himself a local boy. He has undeniably been a remarkable servant to the English national team, racking up a 115 caps, a record for an outfield player. But above all, for a media-hungry creature like Beckham, the Olympics are the ultimate catnip.
The competition ticks all of his boxes: global broadcast exposure, soccer balls and the chance to drape yourself in a Union Jack flag. Mark our words, he will be there. And with 12 months still to go, he could still yet mount a charm campaign to ensure he is granted the honor of lighting the Olympic torch, by popular acclaim.
Roger Bennett is the co-host of Off The Ball and appears on Futbol Frenzy on "Morning Joe" every Monday. He can be reached via Twitter: @rogbennett