DAVID Beckham would not rank among the top 1,000 players of the last 40 years, former England winger Chris Waddle said yesterday in comments at odds with glowing tributes to the retiring midfielder.
Beckham, 38, announced on Thursday that he was retiring at the end of the season after winning trophies and titles in four countries and earning 115 caps for England – a record for an outfield player.
In a glittering career, the former England captain has become one of the world’s best known and wealthiest footballers with a celebrity lifestyle and fame as a style and fashion superstar.
“I would say he has been a good player, I wouldn’t put him down as a great,” Waddle, 52, told BBC radio.
“You can go down a list of players from the Premier League or the 70s or 80s. I’ll be honest, Beckham probably wouldn’t be in the first 1,000. I think there has been a lot more talented players in the world. But he made the most of what he has got.”
Waddle won 62 England caps in a career playing for Newcastle, Tottenham, Sheffield Wednesday and Marseille in France. He and Beckham did not overlap in the England team, with Waddle’s last cap coming in 1991 and the then-Manchester United player making his senior international debut in 1996.
The two men do share one England claim to fame, having both blazed a penalty over the bar in a major tournament shoot-out defeat.
Waddle’s ballooned effort came in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against Germany, while Beckham sent his almost as high against Portugal in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals. “He has got a terrific image and used it very well. He never had a trick, wasn’t particularly quick, but he was very good at set-pieces and deliveries, he made chances and made goals and was fantastic for clubs,” conceded Waddle. “He said the right things, he sold shirts, he put money in the tills wherever he went and conducted himself well.”
Beckham will play for Paris St Germain in his last ever home match today, against Brest at the Parc des Princes, the club’s manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also wants Beckham to maintain his connection with the club once he hangs up his boots.
Ancelotti, who was also manager of AC Milan when Beckham was on loan there, said: “He will play [against Brest]. Against Lorient [the final match of the season] I don’t know yet. If he thinks it was the right moment to stop we have to respect this. Not just PSG but the football world has lost a fantastic player and a fantastic professional and a good man, but he has taken the right decision because he decided to stop and not other people.”