Four iconic England internationals
Only nine soccer players have represented England in more than 100 internationals and two of those will be playing in MLS this season. One other centurion played in the North American league towards the end of his football career before embarking on a role as a fashion and cultural icon. Between them these three players have appeared in nine World Cups for England. In addition, Bobby Moore is the most famous member of this group as he captained England when they won the 1966 World Cup and then played in the NASL for two seasons in the 1970s.
Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are moving to the States to play the sport at the end of stellar careers characterised by loyalty to one club for which they broke appearance and scoring records. Ahead of a brief spell at PSG in France David Beckham played for LA Galaxy after a move that suited his wife Victoria, the fashion designer formerly known as Posh Spice from the British girl band the Spice Girls.
Beckham played 98 times for LA Galaxy, scoring 18 goals in a career at the club from 2007 to 2012 that was interspersed by two spells on loan at Inter Milan. He played for six clubs in total in a career spanning 21 years, scoring 129 goals in 719 matches. Despite being born in London he was a fanatical Manchester United fan as a youngster and played for that club in 265 matches scoring 62 goals. Beckham also scored 17 goals in 115 England internationals.
He left United in 2003 and joined Real Madrid, arguably the biggest club side in the world. He played in a team of Galacticos, world class players recruited at huge expense to win the Champions League and finish above Barcelona in La Liga, the top division in Spain. Real never won the premier European competition in the Beckham and the then nine times winners only achieved “La Decima” (the tenth) last season. The Galactico influence has continued with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to join the current squad.
Beckham was announced as a new LA Galaxy player at the same time as the 2007 Super Draft. Soon after the expensive acquisition a 5 year shirt deal was signed, season ticket sales rocketed and the clubs owners had a boost to their business. The town and club bought into brand Beckham and he paid his way on the field. In November 2011 La Galaxy won their third MLS Cup and Beckham joined a small group of players that have won three league titles in three different countries.
Beckham retired as a player after a six month spell at Paris Saint-Germain which meant Mrs Beckham could go shopping in another world famous city. She is now a success in her own right in the fashion industry and despite the A-list celebratory lifestyle the couple have four grounded children who are not allowed to take money and privilege for granted. Their Dad’s latest project is to set up a Major League Soccer team in Miami, pending a new stadium.
Lampard is currently playing in the English Premier League for Manchester City, 1/16 with William Hill to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. In July 2014 Lampard supposedly signed a two year deal to play for New York City FC. The move to the States followed a 12 year spell at Chelsea where he is the record scorer, finding the net 211 times in 648 matches. He moved to City in a one season a deal that was possible because City are the parent club of New York. At the start of this year Lampard finally signed to play for New York City in the MLS. Chelsea are big favourites to win the Premier League in England.
The deal that kept Lampard at City this season was controversial. New York City felt hard done by as they will only see the player in their colours further down his career path when he will be a year older. That would not be such an issue if Lampard was in his prime but aged 36 12 months is a huge amount of time in the context of his waning skills and stamina. It transpires there wasn’t a two year contract to play for NYCFC and the move was seen as an abuse of power in controlling two football clubs.
Gerrard has only ever played for Liverpool and England. He supports the club and has been involved in many memorable matches since making his debut in 1998. He led his team to the Miracle of Istanbul. Liverpool were losing 3-0 to AC Milan in the final of the 2005 Champions League in the Turkish city. Gerrard scored a goal and inspired his team to win the match after extra time and penalties. However, in his time at the club Liverpool never won the Premier League despite some near misses most notably last season when a crucial slip by Gerrard cost the team dear.
A perfect end to Gerrard’s career at Liverpool would be playing in the English FA Cup Final on May 30th, his 35th birthday. The dream has not become a reality as Liverpool lost in the semi-finals to Aston Villa who now play Arsenal in the final. At the time of writing Gerard has scored 183 goals in 704 matches for Liverpool. He has also scored 21 times for England in 114 appearances. He captained his country at the 2014 World Cup but never won a major international trophy.
Gerrard will emulate a fellow former England captain in Beckham by playing for LA Galaxy in MLS. He has signed an 18 month designated player contract, having retired from international football after the World Cup. The reasoning behind that decision was to focus on his club career. However, Liverpool did not offer him a decent deal for next season so Gerrard becomes the fourth man to play 100 times for England and professionally in the United States.
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