Book Review: David Beckham – Fifty Defining Fixtures by Steve Tongue

Another offering from Amberley books in their expanding football series, Fifty Defining Fixtures. This edition by Steve Tongue focuses on David Beckham.

Beckham has come to transcend the game of football where he initially made his name, but in the Introduction, Tongue is clear on the direction of this book; “the focus here is on Beckham the footballer and the most memorable of his 800-plus matches”, adding, “selecting fifty games is not easy and cannot be definitive.”

Where Tongue has succeeded with his selection of the games is that it does reflect Beckham’s England career and marks the incredible achievement of winning league titles in four different countries – England, Spain, USA and France.

So there are details of the games you expect to see – the iconic lob over Neil Sullivan against Wimbledon in 1996, the sending-off against Argentina in the World Cup in 1998, the 2001 performance against Greece and THAT free-kick at Old Trafford and redemption against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup – but also others less familiar, including a couple of games from Beckham’s youth career, a loan-spell at Preston and his time with LA Galaxy in the MLS.

Tongue does an excellent job in ensuring that both the highs and lows of Beckham’s career are captured and the author is not afraid to detail the opinions of journalists who believe the former England captain was a player of limited ability, and in so doing enables the book to present a balanced perspective.

In addition the author successfully ensures that despite the timespan covered in just fifty games, there is a flow and connection so that the reader can easily follow Beckham’s career. What helps is that Tongue puts each game in context, so that there is a wider appreciation of the significance of the fixtures detailed.

This is a useful addition to books on Beckham in the on-going debate as to the players place in football history.


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

World Cup 2018 – D-day

Thursday 02 December 2010 – So here we go. After two years effort by the various Bid teams, the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is only hours away. Just as the 2022 hopefuls made their final presentations yesterday, this morning the 2018 Bids make their final 30 minute pleas. The Netherlands/Belgium Bid team kick-off proceedings, followed by Spain/Portugal, England and finally Russia. The Executive Committee then go into their conclave, with the announcement likely from 15:00.

Just to reiterate, 12 votes are needed to secure a majority. If this figure isn’t reached in the first round of voting, then the Bid with the fewest votes drops out and another round of voting occurs until the majority is achieved.

What is my gut feeling? Well the bookies are rarely far off the mark and if they are to be believed then Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) will be celebrating later today. My preferences are England (2018) and Australia (2022), but I don’t really believe that this will come to pass and so I don’t feel nervous as the minutes tick away to decision time.

The fact is that I believe that the England 2018 is the best bid in so many ways and this was further reinforced a few days ago by the report compiled by FIFA consultants McKinsey which revealed that after an analysis of a number of financial sectors, England topped the findings as the Bid would meet 100% profitability in every area. 2018 rivals Spain/Portugal received 91%, Netherlands/Belgium were given 87% and Russia were awarded 86%.

However, there has to be an acceptance that there are people looking for an excuse not to award the tournament to England. The Sunday Times investigation and the BBC Panorama programme supplied some ammunition for the detractors of the English Bid as did the ugly scenes at the end of the Birmingham City and Aston Villa League Cup game last night.

Despite my lack of optimism, is there a final twist to proceedings today? Back in 2001 Beckham saved England’s blushes against Greece with a last minute free-kick to secure qualification for the 2002 World Cup. Can “Becks” inspire another England team of a different kind, to snatch a dramatic win?

World Cup 2018 – 9 days to decision

The reality is that this time next week the BBC Panorama programme into FIFA will have been aired and the England 2018 Bid team will be trying desperately to deal with the repercussions. Panorama have been here before with this subject matter with Jack Warner coming under the spotlight previously.

Jack Warner is currently the Trinidad and Tobago football executive, FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean  Association Football) President. His first brush with Panorama came when Warner was accused of corruption for repeatedly taking advantage of his position for financial gain. FIFA’s auditors, Ernst & Young, estimated that his family made a profit of at least $1 million from reselling 2006 World Cup tickets that Warner had ordered. Minutes of FIFA’s Executive Committee show that a fine of almost $1 million, equal to the expected profiteering, was imposed on the family.

Of the impending Panorama programme due to be screened on 29 November, the CONCACAF President has said it was “…deliberately designed to negatively impact…” on England’s bid and claims the programme is nothing more than “…a personal vendetta…”.

The England Bid team are aware that Warner holds the key to three votes which could be crucial to their chances of winning the 2018 decision. Previously, Warner was critical of the England Bid and caused controversy when he said  that “…England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football…” he added that, “…for Europe, England is an irritant…”, and that “…nobody in Europe likes England…”. However, he has since been seen as an advocate of the English Bid. Indeed England have courted Warner over the last few years. In June 2008 England played Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain and as recently as this September this year, David Beckham was in Macoya (Trinidad) coaching youngsters and pressing the claims of the England 2018 Bid with Warner. This month too has seen more attempts to secure Warner’s support as Prime Minister David Cameron invited the CONCACAF President to lunch.

However, the Bid team know that they have to do more than focus on Jack Warner to ensure they get the 12 votes necessary and as the clock ticks down to decision day England 2018 representatives are out around the world. This week the Bid team is in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion staging a safety and security seminar at the home of CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) as part of its campaign to gain support from their FIFA Executive Committee members. Elsewhere, David Dein, the former Arsenal and FA vice-chairman, travels to Rio de Janeiro for informal meetings with FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Brazil’s FIFA member Ricardo Terra Teixeira. Finally, England 2018 chairman Geoff Thompson, Chief Executive Andy Anson and Ambassador Paul Elliott will travel to Kuala Lumpur with Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to see the four Asian members of the FIFA Executive Committee.

Gentleman good luck, the hopes of the nations bid rest with you.