CARSON -- The choice of captain belongs to the manager, David Beckham said Thursday as he addressed for the first time publicly Fabio Capello's abrupt departure last week as England's national team coach.
Capello, one of the most respected of Italian coaches, resigned last week after The Football Association, the sport's governing body in England, stripped the national team captaincy from Chelsea defender John Terry after a trial date was set on charges that Terry used racist insults during an English Premier League match in November.
The F.A. made the decision without consulting Capello, who blasted the decision in an interview with Italian television before he stepped away from the job four months before the start of the European Championship.
“Obviously, I was surprised just because European Championship's coming up, and after working with Fabio for quite a few years, it's sad that he's stepped down at a critical stage for England,” Beckham said following the Galaxy's 3-2 preseason victory over Chivas USA on the club's Home Depot Center training field. “He's done it for his own reasons, and he's a manager that I respect and a person that I respect a lot, and I wish him all the best.”
Beckham, who played at Real Madrid and for England under Capello and served as England's captain from the end of 2000 through the 2006 World Cup, was asked whether the choice of captain should be the manager's or the F.A.'s.
“Coach's call. Coach's call,” he replied. “You know, I think that's always the case. Obviously a decision was taken to take the captaincy away from John, but, going forward, I'm sure the captain will be picked by whatever manager comes in.
“Now as a nation we have to come together and concentrate first on getting a new manager and then going to the European Championship.”
Terry, 31, succeeded Beckham as England's captain, but his tenure has had its controversies. He was dropped as captain in February 2010 after an extramarital affair with former national team defender Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend.
Terry was replaced by Rio Ferdinand, whose younger brother, Anton, a Queens Park Rangers defender, Terry is accused of racially abusing last November. Terry was reappointed 11 months ago after an injury to Rio Ferdinand.
Capello, only the second foreign manager to lead England's national team, was an Italian national-teamer who starred for SPAL, AS Roma, Juventus and AC Milan who has managed Milan on three occasions, Real Madrid twice, Roma and Juve. The Italian media reported that the Terry controversy provided a ready excuse for him to depart the $9 million-per-year position.
“The English could not stand him any longer, and he could not stand the English any more,” Italian daily La Repubblica wrote. “A politically correct excuse was required to terminate a marriage which has never been consummated, and the Terry case, with its racist undertone, was perfect.”
There have been calls in England for an English manager, and Beckham was asked whether that was needed.
“Obviously, we've had Fabio, who's obviously Italian, for the last four years, and obviously people talk about and have talked about for many years having an English manager in charge of our national team,” Beckham said. “Obviously, it's not my decision -- that'll be down to the F.A. -- but there's always going to be rumors about managers that are gonna step in now.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, meeting with media later Thursday, said he expected an Englishman to get the job.
“England clearly is going to have an English manager this time around. That's my opinion,” he said. “I think the public certainly wants that. I would think that's what they're going to get.”
Arena, who guided the U.S. national team at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, was mentioned in an opinion piece on Major League Soccer's website as a should-be contender for the position.
“I have a snowball's chance in hell,” he said.
Speculation has focused on Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who was cleared of tax-evasion charges just hours before Capello's resignation. Beckham, whose maternal grandfather was a Spurs fan, has a strong relationship with Redknapp and trained under him with the club before joining the Galaxy's preseason preparations last year.
“Harry's a great man, great manager,” Beckham said. “His man-management is incredible. I know players that have played under him. I've trained under him, and he's not just a great manager but a great person as well. With everything he's had going on, the last few years, glad to see that out of the way.
“Right now he's Tottenham manager, he's done an incredible job with the team down there, and my grandfather would be proud.”