Beckham closes in on WCup spot, AC Milan loan
WEMBLEY, England (AP) -- With another loan move to AC Milan 95 percent done, Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham can focus on earning a place on England's World Cup roster.
The 34-year-old midfielder demonstrated his enduring worth to his country Wednesday night, lifting the team's tempo and rousing the home crowd during a 30-minute appearance against Belarus.
His first touch set up the second goal as England completed qualifying with a 3-0 victory.
It was Beckham's 115th international appearance, 10 shy of the English record held by retired goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
Whether Beckham goes to a fourth World Cup, where he could break that record next June, is dependent on securing a move to a top European club. He was with AC Milan during the second half of last season and appears set to return in January.
"It's close," Beckham said. "I've always said I want to go back there if they want me. AC Milan have said they wanted me back since I left to go back to the United States and they're saying the same now.
"It's 95 percent done, so I don't know why it wouldn't happen now. It will be sorted out in the next month ,and I will probably be going there at the end of December."
While there was little surprise at Wembley that Beckham is Milan-bound, there was when he was selected man of the match despite entering in only the 58th minute. It was awarded by former Manchester United teammate Steve Bruce, who was working as a TV commentator.
"You can't deny his range of passing," said Bruce, currently the Sunderland manager. "It's great for him that he can still make an impact."
Beckham responded: "I'm a little bit embarrassed."
Even England coach Fabio Capello was surprised, comparing Beckham's selection with U.S. President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize last week.
"I just told him it was like Obama getting the Nobel Prize after eight months of being president of the United States," Capello said. "Beckham gets after 30 minutes."
"When Beckham plays for 20 minutes, 50 minutes, 30 minutes, half an hour, half time, he's always focused. This is important. Sometimes some players as a substitute have some problems to play normal. David plays always well."
Even though he's no longer a regular starter, Beckham appears to have a good chance to make England's 23-man World Cup roster.
"We all have to prove with every game and every training session that we want to be in the squad for every game," Beckham said. "Not just the World Cup, but every qualifier and every time we meet up."
Immediately after coming on -- much to the crowd's delight -- Beckham rolled a short corner to Shaun Wright-Phillips on the edge of a crowded penalty area to score England's second goal in the team's last competitive match before the World Cup. Beckham also hit a post.
After failing to reach the 2008 European Championship, England completed qualifying with 9 wins and one loss, scoring more goals -- 34 -- than any other team in Europe.
"It has been exceptional," Beckham said. "It doesn't end there because we have to keep on performing in every game we play leading up to the World Cup."
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