David Beckham has dedicated his record-breaking 109th England cap to his family, after overtaking Bobby Moore to become his country's most-capped outfield player of all time. Beckham came on for the second half in a 4-0 friendly victory over Slovakia at Wembley and admitted afterwards it had been an emotional occasion. The AC Milan midfielder had thought his England career was over when he was dropped from the team following the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ finals, but has fought his way back into contention and is now a regular member of Fabio Capello's squad.
"I didn't think I was going to reach 95, let alone 109, so I'm very proud and very pleased," Beckham said. "When you grow up, you dream about playing for your country and at Wembley. To play 109 times for England is obviously very special for me and for my family.
"I won't give this cap away, I'll keep this one for myself. It will be in my house in London, locked up! But obviously I dedicate it to my family because they are the ones who have been through the ups and downs of my career and been there for the good times and also the bad times," Beckham added. "It's been a rollercoaster at times, but it's been a special occasion. All my family were here, so it meant a lot."
Beckham's continued presence in the England squad has not pleased everyone in his home country, with some critics suggesting he should make way for younger team-mates. But his performance as a second-half substitute against Slovakia could only help him to make a strong case for regular inclusion. England were only 1-0 up, through Emile Heskey, when he arrived on the pitch, but he soon set up a crucial second for Wayne Rooney and England went on to complete a comfortable victory when Frank Lampard and then man of the match Rooney again added to the score.
"When you are on the bench, you hope to come on and either secure the game or make a difference and produce an assist," Beckham said. "I was lucky enough to get in positions where I put a couple of good balls in. More important, though, was the performance of the team. We started off well, and set the tone for the game.
"Wayne was fantastic too," Beckham said. "He has been training well all week and has been unbelievable for Manchester United. He is a special player and we are very lucky to have him."
Beckham, currently on loan in Italy from American club LA Galaxy, is now dreaming of playing for England in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, having already featured in 1998, 2002 and 2006. But he remains coy about talking up his chances.
"The target is just to play, be involved in every game possible," Beckham said. "Of course, I've already said I'd love to play in another World Cup - or two! But we'll have to wait and see. That's a long way away at the moment and there are a lot of games leading up to that."
Beckham's first target is to force his way into England's starting line-up for a crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Ukraine at Wembley on 1 April. Victory in that game could leave England tantalisingly close to qualification, as they already sit top of Group 6 with a 100 per cent record so far. With that in mind, there are no plans for a big celebration until the job is done.
"There are no plans to go out, we're in with the team," said Beckham. "We'll be getting ready for the game on Wednesday. It was a good performance against Slovakia, but now our minds are on Wednesday against the Ukraine."