Stuart Pearce on Monday officially unveiled Great Britain's 18-man Olympic roster, and, sure enough, David Beckham wasn't on the list. The over-23 players, as reported last week, are Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, Manchester United's Ryan Giggs and Manchester City's Micah Richards.
Beckham's omission was all about form, Pearce said.
“Form plays a big part, and I don't think there is a manager around who picks on sentiment,” he said at a news conference. "I have to be comfortable when I have made decisions solely on football grounds alone, nothing else. ...
“From the offset, when I sat down with the [English Football Association] chairman David Bernstein some time before Christmas, he offered me the opportunity to pick the squad. If at that stage he had said to me that certain individuals would have to be included, I certainly wouldn't do that job. I don't know any manager worth their salt who would have. Right through this process I have had carte blanche to pick whatever players I regard as best. I do enough hours watching matches, and I think I've done due diligence on all the players here.”
Pearce saw Beckham play in three Major League Soccer games before deciding to leave him out of the squad. Beckham played a vital role in bringing the Olympics to London and has played an ambassadorial role since, and it was widely assumed that he would captain the unified British team as a reward.
Beckham has not addressed the media since learning last week he would not make the Olympic team. His representative released a statement Thursday in which the Galaxy star said he was “very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me.”
Teammates were vocal in decrying Pearce's decision.
"I think we're all disappointed,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “I think we probably all don't agree with the decision, but that's the way soccer is and always has been that way, and we're disappointed for David. You look at it in the bigger context, the opportunity to play in the Olympics in your home country is really special, and to have that taken away from you is devastating. Especially for a guy who has done so much for the sport in that country. It doesn't really make sense. But that's life.”
Former English national-teamer Shaun Wright-Phillps said before a charity motorcycle ride Sunday in the South Bay that he, too, wasn't happy to hear the news.
“It would be nice to watch him,” Wright-Phillips said. “I was quite looking forward to it, as he is a close friend of mine. But it's football, and he'll tell you the same thing. That's what happens.”