UEFA to honor David Beckham
LONDON -- David Beckham's England career will be honored at the team's final European Championship warm-up match, with the former captain receiving an award from the continent's governing body for players who have at least 100 international appearances.
The 37-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, who made the last of his 115 appearances for England in 2009, will receive a commemorative cap and medal at halftime of the June 2 exhibition against Belgium at Wembley Stadium, the English Football Association told The Associated Press.
The award will also be presented to 1966 World Cup-winning forward Bobby Charlton, who played 106 times for England, and retired goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who made a record 125 appearances.
Family members of 1966 World Cup captain Bobby Moore and Billy Wright, a defender in the 1940s and '50s, will receive the award from FA chairman David Bernstein.
The ceremony was introduced by Michel Platini, the president of the Union of European Football Associations, to celebrate players who have played in at least 100 national team games.
Despite never winning any honors with England, Beckham established himself as the biggest star English soccer has produced.
"Throughout my career I've been pretty successful," Beckham said last week. "I've played for some pretty big teams. I've played for my country quite a few times and for managers without sentiment ... I'm very proud of the fact and I have always found it an honor that people want to buy my shirt, that fans turn up to watch the team I am playing in or to see myself. I've always found that a huge honor."
After beginning his career at Manchester United in 1992, Beckham made his England debut against Moldova in September 1996.
The low point of his international career came at his first World Cup, in 1998, when he was sent off for petulantly kicking out at Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone. Some England fans hung effigies of Beckham after the second-round loss.
Beckham managed to bounce back and his injury-time goal on a free kick against Greece clinched a World Cup berth. He then captained the team at the 2002 World Cup under coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Beckham tearfully relinquished the England captaincy after the 2006 tournament, when England reached the quarterfinals for the second straight time. He was then dropped from the squad by new coach Steve McClaren, but was restored in the ultimately unsuccessful 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign.
Beckham's international career survived initially in 2010 World Cup qualifying under McClaren's replacement, Fabio Capello, who coached him at Real Madrid.
But Beckham was injured three months before the World Cup in South Africa and went only in a non-playing role as an unofficial coach.
Despite returning to fitness after the tournament, Beckham was dismissed by Capello as being too old for a role on the team, meaning that his appearance as a second-half substitute against Belarus in October 2009 earned him his 115th and last international cap.
Beckham's focus now is securing a spot in Britain's soccer team at the London Olympics.
He has been included in coach Stuart Pearce's 80-man short list that will be whittled to 18 shortly to form Britain's first Olympic squad since 1960. If chosen, he would be one of the three players over age 23 allowed on each roster.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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