SPORTS> Soccer
Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive
Updated: 2009-10-16 16:32

LONDON: David Beckham could face a hectic time next year as he targets a place in England's World Cup squad while adding much-needed stardust to his country's bid to stage the 2018 tournament.

The 34-year-old midfielder, a veteran of three previous World Cup campaigns, is one of 10 vice-presidents in England's bid team and in the opinion of FIFA vice-president Jack Warner should be the most visible.

Related readings:
Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive Beckham closes in on WCup spot, AC Milan loan
Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive Beckham cameo draws comparisons with Obama
Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive Fox 'replaces Beckham in Armani campaign'
Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive After Beckham, Ronaldo to model Armani underwear

Beckham begins England's 2018 World Cup charm offensive Beckham says close to finalising return to Milan

Warner shook England's confidence last week when he suggested the bid lacked sparkle and Beckham believes the FA must pull out all the stops to land the finals.

"We all know that we have the stadiums, we know we love the game, but that doesn't mean we should take anything lightly," Beckham told reporters after winning his 115th England cap.

He came off the bench during a 3-0 win over Belarus in England's final World Cup qualifier on Wednesday -- a cameo appearance that ignited a subdued Wembley atmosphere.

"We are not just expecting to get it but we will work hard to get it and of course we do want it."

Beckham's star quality was an important ingredient in Singapore in 2005 when London won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games and the east Londoner appears to be well-versed on the intricacies of sports politics.

Reacting to Warner's comments Beckham proved to be the model of diplomacy.

England ready

"Everyone will have their opinions and we will take them on board," he said. "We will take advice from people and criticism from people and we will have to learn from that.

"You know you have to learn from people who have a high ranking and know a lot about it. We will learn because we are not taking anything for granted."

Beckham, who was also wheeled out at the Olympics handover ceremony in Beijing last year, said he believed England were ready to host the World Cup next week if needed.

"Being English and patriotic I'm honoured to be involved in the bid but there's a lot of hard work to do, there is a long way to go," he said.

"We are the best choice because we are a nation where we love the game, the facilities around our country are exceptional. Look at the stadiums, they are second to none.

"If the World Cup was next week we would be ready.

"But it's not just given to you, you have to get a lot of things right and you have to make a lot of people happy and we plan on doing that."

England are among 11 bidders to stage either the 2018 or 2022 tournaments, with world soccer's governing body FIFA to decide the hosts in December next year.

As for Beckham's participation in next year's finals in South Africa, his expected loan move to AC Milan from LA Galaxy would boost his chances considerably and Milan's chief executive Adriano Galliani said on Thursday a deal was close.

"I don't say it's done because the contract is going between Milan and Los Angeles, but I do say that we are 95 percent there," Galliani told reporters.

"He's a player with a high level of visibility and he can be useful in image terms," he added, underlining the fact that wherever Beckham pitches up he brings a touch of showbiz.