With the Olympics just around the corner, it seems fitting that I write my first article about team GB’s medal hopes. As usual GB will be strong in the cycling with all sorts of records being set and broken at the Tour de France. In addition swimmers and divers such as Rebecca Adlington and Tom Daley will be looking to full fill their potential and help team GB top the impressive 19 gold medals that they brought home from Beijing.
However, although the nation has big hopes pinned on athletes from all arenas including our cube beating runner Mo Farah, on the 26th July the nations eyes will be well and truly glued to the mens GB football team. With this years team being the first GB team to compete at the Olympics since 1960 there is sure to be a whole load of interest and dare I say expectation on the shoulders of Stuart Pearce’s team as they compete at the home of football. However with disappointment at this years European championships with England, Brits across the isles will be looking to likes of Ryan Giggs, Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge and Craig Bellamy to bring a bit of respect back to the birthplace of the great game. However what has become clear, not only before these Olympics but during the nations chequered footballing history is that sentiment often gets in the way of our success. The prime example of this at this games was the backlash Stuart Pearce faced as he proceeded to select 24 year old Micah Richards over 37 year old fan favourite and Olympic ambassador, David Beckham. Many of you may have been outraged by this, I must admit that even I was caught up in this sentimental wave of outrage that one of the men who helped bring the Olympics to London had been brushed aside for a tournament which to many is insignificant.
But then I thought.
Over the years fans and media alike have called for youth players to drive the team forward, if it wasn’t Oxlade-Chamberlain at this years Euros, then it was Walcott at the 2006 World Cup or even back in ’98 with wonder kid Michael Owen. Even the suggestion that a player was past his best was enough for the media to call for his head and line up his replacement while at the same time blaming our repeated failure on the “tiredness” of our team. Yet in a tournament when we are forced to play youth and display the talent that many across the nation believe we so famously have, there is disgust when one of our oldest eligible players isn’t selected for the side.
As much I love David Beckham it seems obvious that at this moment Micah Richards who has just won a Premier League title is by far the better footballing choice. However, it seems that the British and more specifically the English nation only ever want to be part of a fairytale victory, maybe our fictitious hopes of Beckham re creating his magic against Greece in 2001 are getting in the way of our true desire to suceed. Maybe it’s just the culture of Britain that we all love an underdog, but maybe this year we should forget the idealist romance of David Beckham scoring a last minute free kick at Wembley against Brazil to crown Britain the Olympic champions. Maybe it’s time just to do things right. Although the sentimental side of every Britain maybe a little disheartened by the fact that their David Beckham dream won’t be fulfilled. But maybe this year we forget sentiment and support the best young players the nation has to offer, rather than the ones who are all but ready to claim their pension. And maybe, just maybe we’ll bring footballing success back to where it belongs. Therefore, this summer maybe one footballing great won’t be competing at the Olympics but I’m sure all will be forgotten if team GB are wearing gold around their necks on 11th August.