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Rediff.com  » Sports » Beckham steps down as England captain

Beckham steps down as England captain

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Last updated on: July 02, 2006 21:14 IST

An emotional David Beckham quit on Sunday as England captain after almost six years in the job in the wake of their World Cup quarter-final defeat by Portugal.

The England midfielder, on the verge of tears, read a statement announcing he would step down with the change of manager as Sven-Goran Eriksson hands over to Steve McClaren.

- Images: Portugal vs England

Beckham said former caretaker England manager Peter Taylor had given him "the greatest honour of my career ... and fulfilling my childhood dream" by appointing him as captain in November 2000 for a friendly with Italy in Turin.

But he continued: "I feel the time is right to pass on the armband.

"As we enter a new era under Steve McClaren, it has been an honour and a privilege to have captained our country and I want to stress that I wish to continue to play for England.

"And I look forward to helping both the new captain and Steve McClaren in any way I can.

"I came to this decision some time ago but I had hoped to announce it on the back of a successful World Cup. Sadly, that wasn't to be.

"This decision has been the most difficult of my career to date. But after discussing it with my family and those closest with me, I feel the time is right."

Beckham had been in tears after being substituted due to injury early in the second half of Saturday's agonising defeat by Portugal in a penalty shootout.

It followed a Group B campaign and a second-round victory over Ecuador, secured with a Beckham free kick, in which England had never really got into gear.

"Our performance during this World Cup has not been enough to progress further and both myself and all the players regret that -- and are hurt by that more than people realise," said the 31-year-old.

ABSOLUTE HONOUR

Beckham thanked the players, Taylor, Eriksson and the coaching staff for their support during his time as captain, along with the media and the England fans.

"For me it has been an absolute honour.

"Finally, I have lived the dream," Beckham said, now with his voice faltering with the emotion.

"I am extremely proud to have worn the armband and to have been captain of England. And for that I will always be grateful."

Beckham, wearing a navy blue England suit then got up and left the media centre at England's training ground at Buhlertal, near their Baden Baden hotel.

Paying tribute to Beckham's spell as skipper, Eriksson told reporters: "I think David has been a very good captain.

"He did good work always. He has been very proud of doing the job. I was a little bit disappointed when he told me his decision to finish just before he announced it.

"But you have to respect that and that's it."

Eriksson would not be drawn on Beckham's successor, saying: "Steve McClaren ... has a lot of choices of who can be captain. There are many."

The Real Madrid midfielder was captain for 58 of his England caps, which he incorrectly quoted as 95 instead of 94, and had been closely allied to Eriksson's stewardship.

England's latest failure, after losing the penalty shootout with Portugal 3-1 following a 0-0 deadlock after extra time, left Beckham without a winner's medal with England.

Source:
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