David Beckham, aged 32, became just the fifth player to play 100 times for England, joining an esteemed list of names in the country’s rich footballing history. Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Peter Shilton had all got there before him, though perhaps not with the ups and downs Beckham endured during his Three Lions career.
Plenty of the ‘Golden Generation’ followed Beckham to a century of caps, with Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all reaching the landmark.
Although it was a proud moment for Beckham to get his 100th cap, he may wish it came in different circumstances. The midfielder was recalled to Fabio Capello’s squad for just his second game in charge and started in Paris. However, the Three Lions – a squad in transition having failed to qualify for the forthcoming Euro 2008 tournament – put in a limp display. Beckham lasted 63 minutes before being replaced by David Bentley as Capello’s side went down to Franck Ribery’s first-half penalty.
There was more fanfare for Beckham in the following match at Wembley, when Charlton handed him a commemorative golden cap.
Beckham was never one to do things in an understated manner, so there is little surprise that he went big on his special occasion, wearing a golden pair of boots. The Adidas footwear were bright, bordering on yellow, and had the St George’s flag stitched into the heel.
The beginning of the end
Beckham continued to be part of Capello’s plans and even captained the side in a friendly in Trinidad and Tobago, doing so for the first time since stepping down two years previously. He went on to become the most capped outfield player in the country’s history, but the midfielder was in the twilight of his career.
A snapped Achilles tendon in March 2010 ruled him out of the World Cup and that is where his Three Lions career – one of the most distinguished of anyone to wear the shirt – ended on 115 caps.