- Title: GREECE - OLYMPICS 2012: Beckham wants to be picked for GB Olympic team on merit.
- Date: 19th May 2012
- Summary: BECKHAM GETTING UP AND LEAVING SCHOOL
- Embargoed: 3rd June 2012 13:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA12HHEPZOWGMWS4OXZ7914B3JZ
- Story Text: David Beckham hit back on Friday (May 18) at suggestions that he might be selected for the British Olympic soccer side at the London Games because of his celebrity status rather than on merit alone.
Beckham, a global sporting celebrity who drew one of the loudest cheers of the night when he arrived at Thursday's (May 17) formal flame handover ceremony and was introduced as 'Sir David', is no longer in contention for a place in the England side.
However he is strongly tipped to be one of three 'over-age' players in the first united British side to compete at an Olympics since 1960.
Critics have questioned Beckham's on-field credentials as he plays a high profile ambassador role in the promotion of London 2012.
But the 37-year-old insisted he would always be a player first and a promotor second.
"Throughout my career I've always been picked by some of the of the toughest managers in football, to play games and to win games, and to win competitions. So that doesn't change, you know, I still want to be a winner, I still want to get picked because of what I can do on the field," Beckham said on a visit to meet children in central Athens before escorting the Olympic flame from the Greek capital to Britain.
"Obviously, there's advantages of selling shirts and things like that but for me, it's always been about what I do on the field."
Beckham, who plays for American Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy, was born and raised in East London, not far from the new Olympic Park in Stratford.
He said representing England in his old neighbourhood would be a special moment if he got the chance.
"I'm a very proud Englishman, I have been for my whole life, and when I was a young kid I always wanted to play for England and represent my country, and I was very lucky to be captain of my country, I was very lucky to have played 115 times for my country," Beckham said.
"So that hasn't changed and it will never change. So to represent the GB team in the Olympics, in the East End of London, in England, you know, it doesn't get much better than that."
London was officially handed the Olympic flame yesterday in a rain-hit sundown ceremony at the Athens' old Panathenaic Stadium, venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896.
The flame was handed over to London to host the Games for the third time since the birth of the Olympics - in 1908, 1948 and now 2012. No other city has staged the Games three times.
"It's one of the reasons why we are very proud because the legacy is very important to us for many reasons," Beckham said.
"And obviously to see the inspiration that many athletes are going to bring to the Games and to know that we have children all across the country - not just all across the country (UK) but across the world - (and they) are going to see the show that we are going to put on and going to see the athletes that are going to perform - that is what is going to create the legacy."
The Olympic Flame is due to arrive in the UK later on Friday before it begins a 70-day relay involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles.
The flame will reach east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.
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