Beckham reaches England landmark

Beckham's international career has been prolonged by Fabio CapelloDavid Beckham equalled Bobby Moore’s record of 108 England caps for an outfield player after coming on as a substitute in the friendly with Spain.

The 33-year-old midfielder, currently on-loan at AC Milan, replaced Stuart Downing at the start of the second half with England trailing 1-0.

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton is England’s record appearance holder with 125 caps.

Beckham’s international career has been prolonged by Fabio Capello after he was axed by Steve McClaren in 2006.

The former England coach eventually recalled Beckham in a bid to help England qualify for Euro 2008, though he then suffered another spell in the international wilderness when Capello took over.

Beckham will now hope to surpass Moores’ record next month when England face Slovakia in a friendly on 28 March at Wembley.

Clarence Seedorf, a team-mate of Beckham’s at Milan, congratulated the midfielder on his feat and has tipped him to go on and play at the 2010 World Cup.

“It is a great achievement – he should have had it much earlier in his career,” the Dutchman told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I really congratulate him on this result. Hopefully he can enjoy a great World Cup.

“We have both had problems with the national team, it is pity. He deserves to go to the World Cup and finish his career properly.”

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s game, Seedorf also praised his fellow midfielder for adjusting so quickly to life in Serie A with Milan.

“He is training well and playing well and has done a good job in adapting himself to the work of our team,” he added.

“Of course when you play with leading players who know how to play it is much easier and I can imagine his frustration playing over the last year in the Major Soccer League.”

Beckham, who is keen to make his move from Los Angeles Galaxy to Milan permanent, made his international debut against Moldova in a World Cup qualifier as a 21-year-old in 1996.

The midfielder was key to England’s progression to the 1998 World Cup, though his petulant flick at Argentina’s Diego Simeone earned him a red card as Glenn Hoddle’s side crashed out on penalties.

Two years later, with Hoddle and his successor Kevin Keegan departed, Beckham was stand-in coach Peter Taylor’s surprise choice to fill the vacant post of captain.

New coach Sven-Goran Eriksson would reap the rewards of his and Taylor’s decision to promote the right winger as skipper the following year, when Beckham dragged England through to the 2002 World Cup finals, notably scoring a last-gasp free-kick against Greece to secure automatic qualification.

Archive – Beckham’s redemption in 2002

His subsequent metatarsal injury months before the World Cup dominated England’s preparations and threatened to ruin his hopes of reaching Japan and Korea.

Beckham made it to the Far East, but short of match fitness, he struggled to recapture his dynamic qualifying form and England eventually exited to Brazil in the quarter-finals.

His importance to England was brought into question at Euro 2004 when he missed two penalties – the second in the shoot-out eliminator to Portugal.

In October 2005, Beckham’s red card against Austria made him the first England captain to be sent off and the first, and only, player to be sent off twice while playing for England.

But he captained England for the 50th time in a friendly against Argentina the following month.

More records were broken in Germany 2006 when Beckham scored from a free-kick against Ecuador, becoming the first English player to score in three World Cups – giving England a 1-0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

Once again England went out on penalties, though Beckham did not get to take a spot-kick this time after being taken off with an injury earlier in the game.

A day after the loss, an emotional Beckham stepped down as England captain, saying he felt it right to pass on the armband under incoming manager McClaren.

Since succeeding McClaren, Capello has used Beckham sparingly, but the Italian has always been prepared to use him as an impact substitute.