David Beckham says the timing of the World Cup in Qatar could provide England with an advantage as Gareth Southgate’s men look to end a 56-year wait for major tournament success.
The Three Lions reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and lost on penalties to Italy in last year’s Euro 2020 final.
A poor June resulted in a pair of defeats to Hungary sandwiching draws with Germany and Italy in the Nations League, but England is still tipped among the favourites for World Cup glory.
Beckham featured in three World Cups during a glittering international career that saw him win 115 caps, but success evaded the England sides he played in.
But with England kicking off their Group B campaign against Iran on November 21, Beckham says the timing of the tournament could suit Southgate’s team.
He told former England and Manchester United team-mate, Neville, on The Overlap podcast:
“Personally I feel, for our team, it’s a huge opportunity,”
“Like you said, we never did use it [fatigue] as an excuse [in previous tournaments], but truth be told, we came to the end of a gruelling season in the Premier League – the toughest league in the world, and you are tired, you do want a rest.
“You don’t have that time to recover from a tough season. But these players are coming into this tournament at a time where they’re at their peak, they’re in the middle of their season, there’s no reason and no excuse for them not to be at the top of their game.
“For our players, this is a huge opportunity. We have a young team, an exciting team, we have a manager that has been with these players for a long time.
“I really love watching this England team play, they’re exciting, they play with passion, they play like they want to be there. It’s something that, as an England fan, that’s what you want to see.
“All of a sudden, our fans have come together behind this team again. For a moment, I’d say the fans – I wouldn’t say they fell out of love with the national team, but there was a disconnect.
“[Now] there’s a connection. And I think Gareth’s done an incredible job with this team.”
Beckham also hailed the current Three Lions side as particularly likeable, praising the likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling for their off-field efforts to engage with fans on racism and other social issues.
“There’s an excitement within this team.
“I talk about these players, and they’re more than just footballers.
“What I love about this generation of players, particularly in England, is with the power they have on the field, they’re trying to make change off the field.
“I see the work that Marcus has done, I see the work Raheem and other players have done, the good that they’re doing outside the game is exceptional, using their platform to help other people and make a change.
“The fact they are now helping other people and helping educate people on racism, the stuff they go through every single day, they are making change and that’s why I love this group of players and this generation.”
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