2006 WC could be Beckham's last

Beckham has a lot riding on the World Cup in Germany, which could be his last chance to make his mark at a major championship.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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London :

David Beckham is no longer England's main man. The 31-year-old midfielder - known as much for his glamorous lifestyle, fashion sense and tattoos as for his bending free kicks - has been eclipsed as England's key player. Wayne Rooney, still recovering from a broken foot, is the player England's opponents fear most. Midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are considered more influential than Beckham. His future at Real Madrid is uncertain, and his England captaincy is being questioned. Beckham has a lot riding on the World Cup in Germany, which could be his last chance to make his mark at a major championship. For the first time since 2000, he's injury-free heading into a big tournament. "Physically I'm going into this competition - touch wood - without any broken bones or anything like that," Beckham said. "So personally I feel great. Physically, mentally, it's perfect." Beckham has just finished his third season at Real Madrid, which coincides with the Spanish club's worst trophy-drought since the early 1950s. "Even though I haven't won anything, I've played well this season," Beckham said. "It's a feeling that I've never really felt before to be honest. When I was at (Manchester) United, there was only one year without winning anything. It is a strange feeling, but it also gives you that push to want to go on and win something." Beckham thinks England has a great chance to do that at the World Cup, even though Rooney is in doubt with a broken foot. "Because of where it is this time as well, because it's in Europe," he said. "I think it's better physically for the team. We have got the belief this time." This will likely be Beckham's last tournament as England captain. One of his greatest supporters, coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, is leaving the job after the tournament. His successor, Steve McClaren, has hinted he might not keep Beckham as captain, a position he has held since 2001. Liverpool's Gerrard and Chelsea's John Terry have been mentioned as suitable captains. In April, former England captain Bryan Robson said Beckham wasn't a natural leader; England World Cup winner Bobby Charlton agreed. "For now, I am the captain and I will lead the team into this World Cup and hopefully be successful," Beckham said. "After that, we'll have to wait and see." (AP)