David Beckham brought a touch of Hollywood to London when he was guest of honour at the 2008 Football Writers’ Association Tribute night.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder and former England captain is hoping to reach the landmark of 100 caps for his country, with Fabio Capello now in charge of the side.
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson led the tributes at the gala dinner at the Royal Lancaster Gate Hotel, which was also attended by ex-national team boss Steve McClaren as well as the Football Association’s Brian Barwick and Sir Trevor Brooking.
Beckham, who found fame with Manchester United and Real Madrid before his move to the United States, paid tribute to the figures in football who helped him during his career, including Eriksson.
“For me it was the best time as an England player, a positive time and we played some great football,” said Beckham, whose last-gasp free-kick at Old Trafford sent England to the 2002 World Cup.
“He was a manager that looked after the players, he wasn’t interested in anything else going on.
“That is why he is so well liked by every England player who played under him. He’s a great manager but even more of a great man.”
Beckham signalled his determination to get match fit for Capello’s
first match in charge of England, which is a friendly agianst
Switzerland at Wembley, and has been training with Arsenal during the Major League Soccer close season.
“I’m there to get my fitness for the MLS season and also to try to get fit for the England game,” said Beckham.
“Even if it wasn’t just for the 100th cap, for an England game I’d do the same.
“I want to be fit and be available for Mr Capello’s first team and first game.”
Beckham revealed he had thoroughly enjoyed working with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger in the past week.
“It’s been great. I’m lucky that Arsene Wenger has given me the chance to train with the team,” he added.
“It’s nice to be with a Premier League team that is obviously so talented.
“The players have accepted me really well.”
Former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson was another to pay tribute to Beckham at the dinner, recalling the youngster who once polished his boots at Old Trafford.
“He was proud to clean my boots and sometimes that goes away from the game now,” said Robson. “YTS boys now want to be superstars before they start.
“That’s why David has been the player and person he is – he was proud to clean my boots because I was a hero of his when we were younger.”