Tuesday, September 27, 2005

John Carlin: Never mind England, David Beckham is now the spiritual leader of Real Madrid

All the attention at the Bernabeu on Thursday night was on Jonathan Woodgate, a man to whom the footballing gods are badly in debt. Should he enjoy as much good fortune in the rest of his life as he has endured calamity so far he will truly be one of the blessed of the earth. David Beckham, on the other hand, has had it so good for so long that he must worry sometimes that his luck will run out, that the happy days will not last for ever.

But they are lasting longer than a lot of people in England might think. Seeing him play on Thursday in Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao it was hard to avoid the thought, not for the first time this season or the last, that the man whose credentials as captain of England are under such scrutiny back home has become, for all practical purposes, the captain of Real Madrid. As an influential figure at the Bernabeu remarked yesterday morning: "If all 11 players played with the same intensity and desire as Beckham we'd win every game 5-0."