Peter Shilton believes Beckham will now struggle to add to caps.
Legendary England stopper Peter Shilton believes it will now be incredibly difficult for David Beckham to better his record of 125 international caps for the Three Lions.
Speaking at a Nationwide World Cup Roadshow event, Shilton expressed his sadness at the achilles tendon injury that has ruled the former England captain out of this year’s World Cup in South Africa, and said that the blow could result in Beckham not adding to his current international caps tally of 115.
“I thought he had a job to beat my record and obviously it doesn’t look as though he’s going to be able to do it now,” said Shilton. “I’m very sad for David that he’s not going to the World Cup. It would have been a great end to his career to a certain extent, I think.”
However, 'Shilts', who was England's No.1 at the 1982 '86 and '90 World Cups, does believe Beckham’s misfortune is another’s opportunity.
“From an England point of view, I think [David] probably would have been an experienced cameo sort of figure, used in some sense from the substitutes’ bench, but it is going to give one of the younger players a real opportunity to come in and show what they can do.
“We’ve seen from previous World Cups that players who have come in [can have an impact] – like Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in the ’66 World Cup and also David Platt who came in because Bryan Robson got injured in 1990 and scored a couple of goals. So we’ll have to wait and see but certainly it’s very sad for David to miss out in that respect.”
Shilton’s England career spanned a full two decades, receiving his first full cap in 1970 against East Germany and taking his final bow in the match for Third Place at Italia ’90 against the host nation. Asked whether he feels Beckham could emulate such longevity and make a comeback into the England set-up after he recovers from his injury, Shilton is unsure.
“David’s not getting any younger and no disrespect but I think there are players in front of him now. I think the thing with David is he’s got another role to play with England, with the ambassador bit and the World Cup bid, and that’s a big role to play.
“But he’s got to get over the injury, then get back playing and then he’s got to get his form back. Then we’re into the European Championship and who knows what’s going to happen in this World Cup. There are a lot of ifs and buts, and you can never say never, but I’d be very surprised if David did return to the England squad. But you can never rule David Beckham out of anything.
“I’ve always said I don’t want to lose my record and that I’m very proud of it. But if David had beaten my record I’d have been the first one to congratulate him. For an outfield player to get over 100 caps is fantastic and what David’s done off the pitch is incredible as well.”