Over his thirteen-year long international career, Beckham has instilled himself as a footballing institution – to not have Beckham in an England campaign seems like an oddity and one that will not seem real until Fabio Capello announces his 23 man squad in May. Although Capello, and current loan club AC Milan have said that there will always be room for Beckham should he make a full recovery, his injury and subsequent omission from the England World Cup setup is symbolic of a changing period in English football. We have seen Wayne Rooney take Michael Owen’s place as England’s main goalscorer, Rio Ferdinand replace John Terry as captain, an Italian take charge of the nation’s favourite sport and now, England’s greatest footballing icon is seeing his career slowly diminish. Whether Beckham warranted one of the 23 places is debatable but it would be difficult to suggest that this injury has not affected England’s build up significantly. Although opposing nations realise Beckham’s ability had been dwindling with age and his consistent presence in a game had began to wane, England seem to be a very different prospect without him. The footballing world knew what he could do – one kick of the ball, as Greece found out, was enough to completely change the game and with Beckham’s immense pride, England always had someone to carry them.
England’s two remaining experienced midfielders, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, do not carry the same weight as Beckham – masters of their trade they may be but Beckham was something completely different, something special. That duty has now been passed on to Sir Alex Ferguson’s next great English prot