Team GB manager explains Beckham's Olympic exclusion
Stuart Pearce, manager of Great Britain's men's Olympic soccer team, was on the defensive on Monday.
In addition to revealing his 18-man roster, he also explained his reasons for not including LA Galaxy star David Beckham, who many believed to be a shoo-in for a spot on the squad for his efforts in helping London land the Olympics.
"I've got a vast amount of respect for David and what he has done in bringing the Olympics to these shores," said Pearce. "I have to be comfortable that I've made decisions on footballing grounds alone. Not on personality, or who I like as individuals. This is the strongest squad that's available to me to select."
As had been leaked last week, Pearce's three selections older than age 23 were confirmed to be Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards.
The former England international says he was never pressured to make pick specific players during the selection process.
"From the offset, when I sat down with [FA] chairman, David Bernstein, some time before Christmas, he offered me the opportunity to pick the squad," he said. "If at that stage he had said to me that certain individuals would have to be included, I certainly wouldn't do that job. I don't know any manager worth their salt who would have."
It's no secret that Beckham's presence would have meant greater attention for Team GB and likely increased ticket and merchandise sales. Frankly, Pearce says he could not care less.
"In regard to ticket sales or merchandising or whatever, I'm a football man," Pearce said. "I have to back my opinion. I feel very sorry for David, I know how much it meant to him. I do understand that."
TEAM GB 18-MAN ROSTER
Goalkeepers (2): Jack Butland (Birmingham), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Defenders (6): Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Micah Richards* (Manchester City), Neil Taylor (Swansea), James Tomkins (West Ham)
Midfielders (7): Joe Allen (Swansea), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Jack Cork (Southampton), Ryan Giggs* (Manchester United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Scott Sinclair (Swansea)
Forwards (3): Craig Bellamy* (Liverpool), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)
* = players over the age of 23