The Great Debate: Does David Beckham Deserve To Equal Bobby Moore's Record?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IFebruary 11, 2009

Let me take you back to 1973. It was a year in which the UK and Republic of Ireland joined what was to become the European Union, Elvis Presley was watched by over a billion people worldwide, and Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon.

In the USA, Richard Nixon began pulling out of Vietnam, the Miami Dolphins completed the first-ever perfect NFL season, and the World Trade Center was officially opened.

It truly was a landmark year. But for English football fans everywhere, it is also remembered as the year in which Bobby Moore, the only Englishman to ever captain his country to World Cup success, played his last game for England.

It came in a match against Italy, a match which England lost 1-0. The scorer of the Italian goal, by sheer coincidence, is the man who could allow David Beckham to equal Bobby Moore's record tonight: Fabio Capello.

But there has been a lot of debate as to whether or not Beckham deserves to equal the great man's record.

Bobby Moore stayed out of the spotlight as much as an idol to millions could, while David Beckham has stayed in the spotlight so much throughout his career that some people see him as more of a celebrity than a footballer.

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One cannot blame Beckham for this. If there are millions of pounds to be made from marketing yourself then I'm sure 99 percent of people would do it. Even Bobby Moore did it, although not to the same extent.

But does the fact that Beckham makes headlines as much for off-the-field events as on-the-field ones mean he is not deserving of Bobby Moore's record?

Not in my opinion.

David Beckham has been a fantastic servant to English football. Very few people could have coped with what he has had to. He never turned his back on the country when it turned it's back on him after France '98.

He continually fought to get back to being loved by the public, and it took years to do so. It took that free-kick against Greece to turn things around for many supporters.

He has had to fight against the claims that he is a celebrity before being a footballer, with playing for three of the world's biggest clubs seemingly not being enough.

He has fought against claims that he is past it, and should give up instead of trying to squeeze as much money out of potential employers as he can.

Yet, whenever he has been called up for England, he has deserved it. OK, so there may have been one or two times someone was playing better than him, but for each of those times there has been one where he deserved to be called up and wasn't.

So, if he has deserved each of his caps individually, how does he not deserve all 108 of them?

Well, I think the problem is that people see Bobby Moore as a true legend of English football and think Beckham isn't on the same level.

This is fair enough. After all, very few people are on Moore's level, with perhaps only Bobby Charlton being able to lay claim to be alongside Moore in the pantheon of English football greats.

But having the same amount of caps as someone doesn't mean they are as good as that someone. Beckham is a fantastic footballer, but I'm sure he will be the first to admit that he is no Bobby Moore.

Is he as good as Bobby Charlton or Billy Wright? Perhaps not, but he still has more caps. Is he as good as Paul Gascoigne or Stanley Matthews? Again, maybe not, but he still has more caps. Is Peter Shilton the greatest England player ever? No, yet he is the highest capped.

There is some correlation between caps and quality—a terrible player won't win 100 caps—but it isn't a defining correlation.

Although I think Beckham deserves his 108th cap, I also think Bobby Moore's haul means more. After all, it included a World Cup success, and he played every single minute of every cap he won.

Also, it was tougher to win caps then. The matches were rarer and, as it was in the days before substitutes, a player couldn't win a cap by coming on in the last minute.

Beckham, on the other hand, has only completed 54 of his 107 caps and, while he has started 99, the last few have been appearances off the bench, a factor that, if around in Moore's day, could have prolonged his international career considerably.

Congratulations have to go to Beckham for reaching 108 caps, whether you feel he deserves it or not. Personally, I feel he does. But Moore's caps are more impressive.

Equalling the outfield appearance record is a just reward for the passion, dedication, and loyalty Beckham has given to England. It doesn't mean he is as good as Moore, but it does recognise his phenomenal service to the national team.