Stars and stripes salute as Beckham rallies the nation
By Ian McGarry
David Beckham will honour the victims of last month's terrorist attacks on
America by wearing a Stars and Stripes armband when he captains England
against Greece tomorrow.
The skipper wants to make his own gesture of respect to those who died and
the FA has supported his decision.
Beckham's idea mirrors that of West Ham captain Paolo Di Canio. The Italian
tied a bandana sporting the American flag around his arm when he led West
Ham to victory over Newcastle two weeks ago.
England must win at Old Trafford to secure automatic qualification to next
year's World Cup Finals and Beckham wants to ensure the team boost the
nation as it prepares to go to war.
He said: 'What has happened has had a huge impact around the world. It may
be unfair for me to comment on it but it has affected everyone. We can only
help those who need our support as much as we can.
'This is a depressing period for the country but it has to be lifted and
there is a great opportunity for us to do that if we can get through to the
World Cup Finals.'
Beckham was speaking as reverberations continued in the England camp over
revelations that Steven Gerrard had been out drinking to the early hours of
Tuesday morning, the day the players gathered at their Manchester base to
prepare for tomorrow's game.
Despite being advised by the FA that he did not have to answer any questions
about Gerrard's misdemeanour, Beckham again displayed his growing maturity
in the role of national team captain as he spoke with tact and diplomacy on
Gerrard will not be dropped from the team for the Greece match and Beckham
insists the potentially disruptive incident would not affect the play-ers.
The Manchester United midfielder said: 'It's down to the manager to speak to
players about certain things but this situation has been sorted out. It's
forgotten about and our focus now is on the game.
'The mood in the squad is very good and so is the atmosphere.
'The players respect each other and all of us know we have to consider what
happens on and off the pitch. We all know our responsibilities.'
England will be without David Seaman for the match after the goalkeeper's
shoulder injury failed to respond to treatment.
But Beckham issued a rallying call to the nation to get behind the team.
'As long as we remain united as a team in a football sense, that will be
important tomorrow,' he said.
'We know the whole nation is behind us and, just like at Manchester United,
this England team never give in.
'We showed that against Finland at Anfield and hopefully we'll show it in
every game we play.'