Beckham has no retirement plans

With a question mark hanging over his place in the England squad, David Beckham says he still has plenty left in his soccer career.

updated: November 24, 2007 10:46 IST
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With a question mark hanging over his place in the England squad, David Beckham says he still has plenty left in his soccer career.

The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, who made his 99th international appearance in England's 3-2 loss to Croatia on Wednesday, still wants to play at the 2010 World Cup - when he will be 35 years old.

"I'm definitely not giving up anything ... I'm happy to have 99 caps but I want to reach 100," Beckham said. "That would be a milestone."

But if that 100th England cap doesn't eventuate, Beckham maintains he won't be hanging up his boots.

"If I don't play for my country again I believe that I had a great career on the England side and I won't be retiring yet," Beckham said. "I believe I have at least two or three years left."

When the time does come to retire, he has ruled out a move to coaching, planning instead to focus on his football academies in Los Angeles and London.

Beckham may have been dissuaded from assuming a coaching role by the tortuous treatment of Steve McClaren, who was fired as England manager on Thursday after the team failed to qualify for the European Championship.

"I could never be a manager," he said.

Perhaps it's because they have caused him so much anguish.

"I was scared of every manager that I ever had in my career," Beckham said.

McClaren's exit will trigger another overhaul within the England team and Beckham hopes it doesn't include him - again.

"I said at the start of my career I'll always want to play for my country and I'd never retire from playing for my country," Beckham said Thursday. "That could obviously be taken out of my hands but I want to reach my 100 caps.

"To get those 100 caps would be a dream come true for me."

Initially discarded after the 2006 World Cup and branded a "casualty," the former captain came to McClaren's rescue when England's European Championship hopes began to fade.

They were finally extinguished by Croatia's triumph at Wembley Stadium, ending McClaren's bleak 15-month reign and Beckham's dream of playing in a sixth major international tournament.

"I'll still be available," Beckham said. "Hopefully I'll still be playing, and playing well enough to be in the England squad in 2010.

"But who knows? Everything can change, and I have seen that in the last 12 months."

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder believes the Football Association will hire a foreign coach.

"There are not many English managers out there that haven't got jobs already," Beckham said. "There are also a lot of talented foreign managers."

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho of Portugal is the bookmaker's favorite.

Beckham came off the bench Wednesday at halftime and set up Peter Crouch to make it 2-2 - which would have been enough to clinch a berth in the final tournament if not for Croatia's late goal.

"When you are at home and you claw yourself back like that, you are on an up and your confidence gets lifted," he said. "But they broke away and got another goal and we just couldn't come back from that.

"We are disappointing and hurting."

And so are the fans.

"When people are seeing the amount of money in football, and the amount players earn, people want results," Beckham said.

It may because young players are harder to tame than when he rose through the ranks at Manchester United.

"For me money never has anything to do with playing football," he said. "Of course people say it's easy for you to say that, obviously you've got the money.

"These days it's a lot easier for 16 and 17-year-old footballers to earn a ridiculous amount of money and not be controlled."

England has only won one major trophy - the 1966 World Cup - which he sees as "extraordinary."

"There must be something wrong, but we are a nation that has got some of the best players in the world and we should be qualifying," Beckham added. "There are no excuses. We should be qualifying for a competition."

Beckham also announced on Thursday that he will embark on a Unicef mission in January after being invited to become an ambassador for the United Nations children's agency by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.