In naming Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards as his three overage players for the 2012 Olympics, manager Stuart Pearce was always opening the door for criticism.
The headline omission is, of course, David Beckham, but there were plenty of other contenders who may feel they had a legitimate shot at making the Team GB side for their home games.
With just three places available for players aged 24 and above, it was always going to be difficult to please everyone. Given Richards’ decision to turn his back on England and the less than private profile of Giggs off the field, Pearce’s decisions have immediately been called into question with just weeks until the big kick-off.
Their credentials on the pitch can’t be questioned, however. The Welsh winger gets his first crack at a ‘major tournament’, whilst Richards is regarded as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League. Bellamy has also proved his ability time and again at the highest level.
But what about the players who didn’t make it? GMF takes a look at five of the ‘veterans’ who could, and perhaps should, have been included ahead of the chosen three.
David Beckham – 37-years-old (LA Galaxy)
The former England captain played a pivotal role in helping the United Kingdom secure the games, and stressed his desire to represent the side if an opportunity became available on a number of occasions.
With 115 caps for the Three Lions, the world’s most recognisable player would have brought vast experience to the 18-man team, and was one of the few players available with experience in leagues outside of the British Isles.
Rio Ferdinand – 33-years-old (Manchester United)
Left out of England’s squad for this summer’s European Championships, manager Stuart Pearce passed up an opportunity to bring one of world football’s most respected defenders into his squad.
True, negotiations with Sir Alex Ferguson would have been needed to smooth things over for a call-up for the 81-cap England international, but Ferdinand is unlikely to have rejected the chance to represent Team GB.
A vast improvement in performance last season saw Ferdinand re-emerge as one of the Premier League’s best defenders, and he also has captain qualities from his 10-years with the Red Devils.
Paul Scholes – 37-years-old (Manchester United)
Having returned from retirement in time to help the Red Devils challenge for trophies last season, Scholes showed he hadn’t lost his old touch at the heart of the midfield for Sir Alex Ferguson.
The general feeling is that, whilst Scholes was a key part of England’s midfield for seven years, we never saw the best of the veteran on the international stage.
That could have changed at the Olympics, but the 66-cap international was overlooked by Pearce and will spend the summer with his feet on the sofa.
Michael Owen – 32-years-old (Free Agent)
One of the finest strikers in recent times, Owen has been plagued by injuries during 16 years at the top of English and European football.
Another to have experience abroad from his time with Real Madrid, the forward is a free agent at the present time, and would have been desperate to impress at the Games as an opportunity to showcase his ability once again.
With 40 goals in 89 England appearances, Owen certainly knows how to find the net on the big stage, and could have been an ‘X Factor’ in a team of young pretenders.
Joe Cole – 30-year-old (Liverpool)
Having spent last season in France with Lille, the former Chelsea star appears to have matured as a footballer, impressing alongside Eden Hazard during a successful Ligue 1 campaign.
With an eye for a killer pass, Cole has shown numerous times that he’s able to unlock defences in a way few others can, and could have added an additional attacking dynamic for Pearce.
Unlike Bellamy, he’d also have been able to play in either a central or wide role, as well as in advanced positions when called upon. His non-selection is Liverpool’s gain this summer, however.
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