Capello and Beckham - the mismatched couple returns to SpainFebruary 11th, 2009 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS
Both Beckham and Capello were the focus of attention, on the eve of the friendly between England and Spain, due to their undoubted charisma and their old ties in the host country.
The start of the alliance dates back to July 2006. Capello was getting ready for a second stint as Real Madrid coach, and he found Beckham in their changing-room.
The former England captain was one of the last survivors of the “galactic” Real Madrid. The other one was the Brazilian Ronaldo, whom the Italian coach got rid of in January, as the striker headed for Milan. The Englishman was left on his own.
Indeed, Beckham came quite close to joining Ronaldo on the way out of the Spanish club.
He announced his intention not to extend his contract at Real Madrid at the end of the season, and Capello decided to keep him off the team. The midfielder spent three months watching games from his exclusive box at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, alongside his wife Victoria.
However, Beckham - in his umpteenth show of great professionalism - did not give up, and Capello, pressed by team needs, had to change his mind.
The Englishman was back in the team to tackle the last stretch in the season, and he was one of Real Madrid’s decisive weapons to carry the title in Spain’s La Liga - Beckham’s one and only title in Spain.
Real Madrid did win the championship, but neither Beckham nor Capello stayed on in the team.
The club leadership sacked the Italian in their search for a different, more spectacular kind of football. And that same leadership showed no interest in getting Beckham to stay, so he honoured the verbal deal that he had made with Los Angeles Galaxy in February 2007.
The reunion between the two was most unexpected. First, because England’s Football Association (FA) hired him as national team coach. And second, because the Italian called back Beckham, who had been pushed off the team by Capello’s predecessor, Steve McClaren.
Now they are both enjoying good times professionally. Capello has got England back on the track of victory, and Beckham is again tasting long-lost football glory with the Milan shirt, precisely following a recommendation from Capello.
The coach returns to Spain, although he actually never left. He has a house in Marbella, on the country’s southern coast, where he spends large portions of his holidays. And he likes to visit Spain often, if only to replenish his stock of ham, one of his favourite foodstuffs.
Spanish memories could hardly be better for Capello: two seasons at Real Madrid (1996-97 and 2006-07) and two titles.
“Besides discipline, Capello always gives character to any team he goes to. That was useful to make Real Madrid win a league after years without doing it,” Spain keeper Iker Casillas said Tuesday of his former coach.
“He lives football with passion and he demands a lot of the players. The English federation has got it right and he is going to give new flair to their national team,” said Casillas.
Under Capello, England are already well on track to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Beckham, in turn, does not share Capello’s love of Spain, a country of which his wife once famously said that it smelled like garlic.
This is the first time the Englishman returns to Spain since he left Real Madrid, and he is set to meet with old team-mates like Sergio Ramos or Casillas.
“He is a reference on a global scale, everybody knows him. He made a good decision by returning to Europe,” Casillas said of “Becks”.
“He is a leader, and as a team mate he had a lot of character, perhaps not the exquisite play of Zidane and Ronaldo, but he contributed strength and character. With Capello he is playing very well,” the Spain keeper said.
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Tags: capello, changing room, club leadership, decisive weapons, england captain, englishman, football association, host country, last survivors, los angeles galaxy, national team coach, old ties, real madrid, santiago bernabeu stadium, second stint, spanish club, spectacular kind, spent three, verbal deal, wife victoria