David Beckham, LA Galaxy
Twenty years into his remarkable career, Beckham is showing he still has the magic touch. Here are three key reasons why:
You count David Beckham out at your own peril.
Beckham is a man who always seems to find triumph in adversity. We all remember Beckham's ultra-professional response to his public demonizsation following his sending-off at France '98. That was just the beginning of a long career marked by astonishing resurgences.
At 37, he still has the uncanny knack of responding to failure with renewed determination. Controversially left out of Stuart Pearce's Team GB Olympic squad, Beckham promptly produced three magnificent goals over two games for LA Galaxy.
2. First Touch
Watching England players at Euro 2012 react to the ball like it was a lit bomb bowling towards them inspired a certain nostalgic respect for Beckham's sure first touch.
Should Becks be in Team GB?
It may be a simple thing, but that has always been the unseen backdrop of Beckham's genius—he works hard to master the simple things. He can control the ball confidently enough to execute his next move flawlessly.
That's about as basic as football gets, but it's hard to picture James Milner, say, picking out this pass—let alone delivering it.
If anything, Beckham's touch and control have improved since then, and the Galaxy owe much of their success—and virtually all their fluency—to his excellent combination work with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
3. Those Free Kicks. Still.
It's possible to be dismissive of Beckham's stock in trade, free kicks. Dead ball proficiency is a peculiar attribute—it clearly requires tremendous skill and talent, yet it can seem removed from the heart of the game. Goals from open play just somehow seem more "authentic."
Yet goals from free kicks often mean the difference between a win and draw or loss. And the sheer breath-taking beauty of some of Beckham's efforts—like this free kick against Portland—more than justifies the gimmicky hype surrounding his unique talent.