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Good hair day for Beckham

You saw it here first: how we predicted the Becks mohican

David Lacey

Thursday May 24, 2001

When the main subject under discussion two days before an England game is the captain's haircut it can be assumed that all is more or less well with the nation's football team. By deciding to go Mohican, or Mohawk to be precise, David Beckham has probably done Sven-Goran Eriksson a favour.

To some the idea of England being led by a modern version of a North American Indian against Mexico at Derby tomorrow night and Greece in a World Cup qualifier next Wednesday may stick in the craw but it is really no big deal, nor even original. When, in the early 70s, Emlyn Hughes succeeded Bobby Moore as England's regular captain he had already been dubbed Crazy Horse at Liverpool.

The fact that yesterday Beckham could chat away cheerily to reporters on the subject of his umpteenth hairstyle is a measure of how far the 26-year-old Manchester United player has come internationally in the three years since his initial omission from Glenn Hoddle's 1998 World Cup team found him soul-searching sheepishly before the assembled media in La Baule.

In public Beckham is much more his own man now. "There's publicity about anything I do, so I've got used to it," he said matter-of-factly. "There was no thinking behind it [the haircut]. I don't think it matters. It's not so much about the way you look as how you conduct yourself.

"It's just me. I'm not doing it to attract attention. I had it done at home and, no, it didn't cost £300. Victoria [Mrs Beckham] loves it."

Though Eriksson did not offer a professional opinion hair-wise, the England coach did confess to being astonished at how much had been made of Beckham's latest tonsure. "He said that if it had been my right foot that would have been a different matter," Beckham added. Quite so. A foot with a Mohican haircut would undoubtedly have restricted his crosses.

Sir Alex Ferguson, apparently, just laughed at the latest Beckham fashion. The Manchester United manager was probably in the mood for a spot of relief amid his rancorous discussions with the Old Trafford board concerning a post at the club once he has retired a year from now.

"Myself and the other players would be sad if he severed all links with the club," Beckham said, "because of the influence he has had on so many of our careers. Certainly we want him to stay on."

There has been considerable speculation about when, and if, Beckham will sign a new contract but yesterday he did his best to damp down the talk. "I've got two years left on my present contract," he said, "so there's no rush to sign a new one. It's not a do-or-die situation."

Neither is tomorrow's game against Mexico, which will be Beckham's fifth as England captain. Peter Taylor handed him the armband when the Leicester City manager was temporarily in charge for last November's friendly in Italy and Eriksson saw no reason to appoint somebody else.

"David's come on a lot as captain since that first match, and particularly in England's last two games," Taylor said yesterday. "He's talking a lot more, most notably in the dressing room, and to me that's important.

"The haircut? The most important thing for me is Beckham's ability. I look at a lot of different haircuts these days and I suppose I'm a bit old-fashioned. But I suppose it's right for the time, and this is 2001."

Taylor will remain part of Eriksson's coaching staff for the Mexico and Greece games but his future with England will depend on Leicester City reaching a further agreement with the Football Association. In the short term he has pulled out of his England role for the friendly with Holland at White Hart Lane on August 15. He will concentrate instead on the start of the Premiership season three days later.

Wes Brown (tendon) remains England's only injury worry. Steven Gerrard, plagued by back and groin problems until recently, has flown to France for a routine check with his physio but should play in both matches.

Realted links
Danny Mills called up
Heskey set to play on left
Eriksson calls up Alan Smith
The secret of Sven's success

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