Former England captain David Beckham has told Gary Neville that the 2022 World Cup’s move to Winter could be a “huge opportunity” for the Three Lions.
When the right to host the tournament was initially awarded to Qatar in 2010, it was scheduled to take place in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, as it has previously been.
However, in October 2013 it was determined that Qatar might prove inhospitable in the summer and so a FIFA task force was appointed. Two years later, the suspicion was confirmed and so the decision was made by FIFA to move the tournament to November and December.
This shift proved hugely controversial at the time, but Beckham argues that it might prove instrumental in England enjoying another memorable tournament.
Beckham, speaking to fellow former England skipper Gary Neville, suggested that his generation of players faced the difficult challenge of completing a “gruelling” Premier League season before shifting to a World Cup.
“We never did use it as an excuse, but truth be told…you are tired, you do want a rest, you don’t have that time to recover from a tough season,” said Beckham.
“But these players are coming into this tournament at a time where they’re at their peak. They’ve had their rest, they’re in the middle of their season, there’s no reason or no excuse for them not to be at the top of their game and at the top of their fitness.”
Having played at three World Cups himself – 1998, 2002, and 2006 – Beckham knows of what he speaks.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions made a famous run to the semi-finals in 2018, their equal-best performance since the 1966 triumph on home soil. They followed it up with last year’s loss in the final of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.
England are undoubtedly one of the most talented squads in the world, despite a dismal run in this month’s UEFA Nations League fixtures.
If, as Beckham suggests, the Three Lions are able to enter this year’s tournament with a fully-fit squad, they will be among the favourites.
England face a relatively straightforward path to the latter stages in Qatar. Iran, the United States and Wales complete England’s Group B and potential round of 16 opponents include hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.
While Beckham is enthusiastic about England’s chances in Qatar, he is also excited about the personality and character of the current generation of players.
“There’s an excitement in this England team and these players,” he added.
“They’re more than just footballers. What I love about this generation of players, particularly in England, is with the power that they have on the field – they’re trying to make change off the field.
“I see the work that Marcus (Rashford) has done and I see the work that Raheem (Sterling) has done and I see the work that other players have done that are in those positions, the good that they’re doing outside of the game is exceptional, it’s really exceptional. They’re using their platform to be able to help other people and to make change.”
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