David Beckham: men's football

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Former England captain David Beckham has set his sights on playing football for Britain at this summer's Olympics.

The one-time Manchester United and Real Madrid star made the provisional, 35-man group, and is tipped to make the final 18 - 11 players and seven substitutes - to be chosen on July 6.

Beckham, who turned 37 last month, is confident he will be one of three permitted over-age players in the under-23 team.

'I've got a good chance,' says Beckham, who won 115 caps for England - the last in 2010. 'Being involved in the Olympics and part of the team would be huge. I'm in good form, so yes, I'm ready.'

With 1.4 million football tickets to the Games to sell, his global appeal may influence selectors, and get him chosen. Other veterans keen to play are Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, 38, Craig Bellamy, 32, and England's Liverpool star Joe Cole, 30. Three 22-year-olds - Tottenham's Gareth Bale, of Wales, and Manchester United's two English players Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling - are also hoping to be picked.

The Olympic tournament, with 288 men in 16 teams and 216 women in 12 teams, kicks off two days before the opening ceremony when Britain's women play New Zealand; they are also grouped with Cameroon and Brazil.

Britain's men start their campaign on July 26 against Senegal, and they also face Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates.The competition will be held in six venues around Britain.

Football was introduced as a men's medal sport at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, France. Britain won the first gold medal and retained their title in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1904.

The sport has featured at every Olympics since then, except in Los Angeles, in the US, in 1932. Women's football was introduced in 1996.

After the first football World Cup in 1930, featuring professional players, the Olympic competition decided to avoid any clash and used only amateurs.

Yet team standards began to vary and eastern European nations, with state-sponsored 'amateurs', dominated. From 1948 to 1980, 23 out of 27 Olympic medals were won by eastern European teams.

Britain, with four independent footballing nations - England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland - stopped entering a team in 1974, but is taking part this year.

At the 1984 Los Angeles Games, professionals returned, but with some restrictions. Since 1992, all teams are under the age of 23, apart from three over-age players.