David Beckham holds the Olympic torch during the ceremony to mark the arrival… (Alastair Grant / Associated…)
Few athletes did more to bring the Olympic Games to London this summer than David Beckham. But now the former English national team captain has been told he's not invited to the party — at least not as a member of Britain's soccer team.
Beckham, who had made no secret of his desire to captain the British team in its first Olympic soccer appearance in 52 years, was told by British Coach Stuart Pearce late Wednesday that he would not make the 18-man team.
"Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been part of this unique team," the Galaxy midfielder said in a statement. "Naturally, I am very disappointed."
Beckham trained with the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Thursday but declined to speak with the media afterward.
Other members of the team spoke for him, however
"I think we're all disappointed," Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.
"The opportunity to play in the Olympics in your home country is really special. And to have that taken from you is devastating. Especially for a guy who's done much for the sport in that country. It doesn't really make sense."
In Olympic soccer, teams are limited to three players older than 23. And for the 37-year-old Beckham, who made a record 115 appearances for the English national team, the Games represented a final chance to play for his country. But Pearce, who came to Southern California at least twice to watch Beckham play for the Galaxy, went with 24-year-old defender Micah Richards of Manchester City and the Welsh pair of Ryan Giggs, 38, and Craig Bellamy, 32, as his overage picks.
Beckham played a crucial role in helping London, his hometown, beat out Paris to host the Games. Last month he even accompanied the Olympic flame from Greece to England, and despite Pearce's snub he is still expected to take part in the opening ceremony on July 27.