Becks hails captain Rooney

David Beckham says England have an inspiration leader in Wayne Rooney and believes he’ll cherish his new role as the Three Lions captain.

Beckham is no stranger to the job himself. As England’s second most capped player with 115 appearances for his country, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder was captain on 59 occasions.

He was also skipper for Rooney’s debut against Australia in 2003, and now, with the Manchester United midfielder approaching a century of England outings, Beckham has nothing but good things to say about his old team-mate.

Exclusive: David Beckham speaks to TheFA.com

“He’s one of the most experienced players in the team now,” Beckham said during a recent visit to St. George’s Park, England’s training base near Burton upon Trent. 

“He’s now the most respected players in the team. Young players will look up to Wayne for inspiration; he’s a player who wears his heart on his sleeve. 

“People want to see that passion; you fight for every ball and celebrate every goal you score, or every goal you set up. 

“That’s what Wayne’s all about. Wayne’s such a great talent, such a great player, people love him, fans love him and it’s great to see him with the armband. It’s something I know he’ll cherish.”

Beckham

Beckham was England captain for the final time in 2008

Beckham continued: “At times [the England captaincy is] underestimated, but you really know how important it is when you’re part of the squad or you are England captain.

“In our country it means more than anywhere else. To be a captain of the England team was the proudest moment in my career, and people really respect that, they really understand how important it is when you’re involved in and around the England team.” 

Rooney, who scored the only goal in Wednesday night’s win over Norway at Wembley, replaces Steven Gerrard as skipper after the Liverpool midfielder retired from international football this summer.

Frank Lampard followed suit last month and Beckham, who regularly lined up in the England midfield alongside both, says he was sad to see them step out of the national team fold.

“My dream was always to play for England, like every kid. But I got the opportunity to represent my country 115 times and to be captain 59 times. When I look back at my career now I’m retired, playing for England is the thing I really miss,” said the 39-year-old.  

“It was my proudest moment to get the armband, my proudest moment to reach 100 caps and represent my country in the World Cup. It’s the one thing I really miss about playing,”

David Beckham and Steven Gerrard

Beckham is sad to see Gerrard retire from England

He said: “I’m really sad to see Stevie step down as England captain. It’s a brave decision, because stepping down from playing for your country is always a tough decision. 

“But Stevie is a clever lad and such a talented player and without doubt one of the best midfielders I’ve ever played alongside. You saw his talent from a young age, there aren’t many who have everything – he’s one of those players. 

“He can head the ball, tackle, score, pass, has energy, and can play in many positions.”

Beckham added: “With Frank also retiring, it’s also sad to see him go as he’s been round so many years with 106 caps. To reach that many caps is an incredible milestone. 

“But he’s got other things to focus on, like playing for his club, and everyone has to respect that. Frank has had such a great career and he’ll continue that at club level.”