London 2012: Stuart Pearce claims David Beckham was excluded from Team GB for ‘footballing reasons’

By Sportsbeat staff

Stuart Pearce claims his decision to omit David Beckham from his Team GB Olympic squad was purely down to ‘footballing reasons’.

As widely reported, former Manchester United star Beckham was absent from the list of 18 players – five Welsh and 13 English – submitted to the British Olympic Association and confirmed today.

There were places in Pearce’s squad for overage players Manchester City defender Micah Richards and United winger Ryan Giggs as well as his Old Trafford teammate Tom Cleverley, Bolton youngster Marvin Sordell and former City striker Daniel Sturridge.

Some have claimed the England under-21 boss’s decision to snub Beckham was an act of revenge for his sidelining from the national team since Roy Hodgson took over earlier this year.

“If I’d been told to include certain individuals I would not have taken the job, no manager worth his salt would take a job in that circumstance,” said Pearce.

“There has been no interference with how I’ve picked the squad. I’ve done my due diligence on all the players selected here and I back my judgement.

“I pick solely on football ability and my opinion. I feel very sorry for David and I understand how much it meant to him to be part of this.

“I’m not picking on personality, ticket sales or merchandising, I’m picking on a player’s ability to do a job for this team.”

Pearce claims the decision to omit Beckham was only made after he had finalised his 15 under-23 selections – the other overage player is Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy.

It is thought that injuries to Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling, who both were expected to be included, forced Pearce to bolster his defence with Richards and ultimately cost Beckham a place many thought was nailed on.

“The three over age players are absolutely key to this team,” added Pearce. 

“I started with the younger players and then looked at the areas where we needed strengthening, especially down the spine of the team.”

Pearce also confirmed there would be no support role for Beckham, similar to the position he was offered by Fabio Capello during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“We are only allowed seven passes for back up staff, so there is no space,” he added.

“What he has done to bring the bid to these shores has been fantastic. But the squad is picked on form and form alone and the same works with our staffing.”

Pearce also claims he took no notice of player’s nationalities when he picked the squad – but the absence of any Scots will not help sluggish ticket sales at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, which hosts some group matches, although no Team GB games.

However, he insisted that Welsh manager Chris Coleman had supported the decision to select his players, including captain Aaron Ramsey.

Coleman is previously on record as opposing the British team but Pearce refused to discuss details of their conversations.

“I don’t think Chris was against it. He saw the pluses of his players being involved in such a great competition,” added Pearce.

“I fully expect and hope the whole country will get behind this British team, it’s not about individual nationalities, it’s about Team GB.”

Pearce’s squad – the first British men’s football team at an Olympics since 1960 – will play a behind closed doors friendly with Mexico in Spain later this month and take on gold medal favourites Brazil in Middlesborough on July 20.

They open their London 2012 campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford six days later, before tackling the United Arab Emirates at Wembley and Uruguay in Cardiff in the following week.

In addition to Brazil and Uruguay, who are expected to include Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez in their squad, Team GB are likely to face competition from a powerful Spain and Euro under-21 champions Switzerland.

“I’ve picked a squad that I believe is good enough to win a medal for our nation,” he added.

“I’ve not thought about the captain yet. I will speak with the players individually and decide my captain accordingly.”

Meanwhile, Team GB officials have confirmed they have contacted Beckham about a wider Games time role.

However, whether Beckham’s LA Galaxy paymasters would permit him to travel in a non-footballing role is unclear, although they’ve already claimed time off would be permitted should he be given a part at the opening ceremony.

“We’d be delighted and honoured to give David a wider role within Team GB but I totally respect Stuart’s judgement when picking his football squad,” said Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt.

“We’ve made contact with David’s representatives over the weekend and we are waiting to hear from them.”

Related Articles