David Beckham left out of 2012 Olympics football squad

It's official: David Beckham has not been selected for the Great Britain Olympic football squad. The 37-year-old former England captain had said in May he thought he had a "good chance" of playing at London 2012 for the British Olympic team but coach Stuart Pearce decided to leave him out of the squad. Beckham said: "Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. I would have been honoured to have been part of this unique Team GB squad. Like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold."

Beckham was included in manager Stuart Pearce's shortlist of 35 players but was left out of the final 18-man squad as one of three players over the age of 23 allowed to compete in the Olympics. Each squad must contain 15 players born after 1 January 1989. Pearce decided to pick Manchester City defender Micah Richards ahead of Beckham. The coach called Beckham on Wednesday night to tell him what he had decided, explaining that he wanted more defensive choices in the squad. The other two over-age players are Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs and Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy.

Beckham said in April this year that he wanted to "be a part of history" by competing in the Olympics in London. In January, he said: "I have led my country before and know how special it would be to lead them into the Olympics." However, coach Stuart Pearce said in April: "He's been a great ambassador but that's no guarantee he'll get in the squad. I'm picking on form and merit alone. David Beckham will be treated exactly the same as any other individual, whether it is young or over-age. I have a duty of care to the Great Britain squad to try to win a gold medal. I will pick the strongest squad I can."

Former England striker Gary Lineker reacted to Beckham's exclusion by tweeting: "Never thought for a second that David Beckham would be excluded from GB's team. Terrible shame for Beckham having given so much to the Olympic bid and football." Former Wales international Robbie Savage tweeted: "Why was Beckham on the shortlist in the first place, then not pick him? Disgrace!"

Team GB were drawn in Group A at London 2012 alongside Senegal, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates. The first match will be against Senegal at Old Trafford on 26 July before facing the United Arab Emirates at Wembley on 29 July, and Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on 1 August.

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