50 Players of the Generation Better Than David Beckham

John Baines@@bainesyDiego10Correspondent IMay 14, 2013

Not buying into Brand Beckham
Not buying into Brand BeckhamDavid Ramos/Getty Images

On Sunday night Paris St Germain edged a hard fought 1-0 win away against Lyon to earn them their first Ligue 1 title success in 19 years—and the third in the clubs relatively short history.

David Beckham entered the fray at the Stade de Gerland as an injury time substitute and the Parisians season long work meant old "Goldenballs" got his hands on the 10th domestic title of his career, accrued in four different countries, played out in some of the worlds most cosmopolitan cities.

On top of that, Beckham has also picked up a pair of FA Cups, a Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup with Manchester United, one Spanish Super Cup with Real Madrid and a score of non-descript silverware with the LA Galaxy.

It's certainly an envious haul, and many players hang up their boots with decidedly less than Beckham in their cabinets, but should David Beckham really be celebrated as one of the great footballers of his generation?

I'm going to argue that he shouldn't, and that there are many more players with more talent, who have achieved similar amounts, yet who never command the same acclaim as Beckham simply because of who he is.

It's an age-old theory, but would Beckham's footballing skills alone have landed him plumb contracts in Madrid, Los Angeles, Milan and Paris if he had a face like a camel eating a lemon and his wife was just a plain Jane he met at school? I say no.

The former England captain has always been a very good player, but has he ever been truly one of the best around? At Manchester United he was a key cog in a fantastic midfield, but few Reds would say he was the best player in Sir Alex Ferguson's all-conquering side of that era, and most of the things he did do were subject to wider media coverage because it was consistently in the press' interest to spread him across their back pages.

A good example of this was his halfway line goal against Wimbledon in the opening game of the 1996/97 season. That strike later went on to be declared the Premier League Goal of the Decade, but connoisseurs of the Internet are now well versed with similar efforts going in from all corners of the globe, in a variety of very lowly leagues. 

But after swapping Manchester for Madrid in 2003, Beckham's on-field successes have been relatively few and far between.

An underwhelming four-year stint alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Raul and Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu resulted in just a solitary 2006/07 Primera Liga winners medal, before at the age of 32 he opted against prolonging his playing days at the highest reaches of the game in favour of rubbing shoulders with Tom Cruise and company in L.A.

His marketability and commercial pull were driving factors behind mini-breaks in Milan and Paris, with Beckham proving to be a more valuable asset to those clubs bean counters rather than their coaches.

So now at 38 years old and coming to the end of a temporary contract with PSG, Beckham must decide whether to call time on what has been a glittering career or look for yet another payday.

Reports suggest PSG may offer him a 12-month extension, but given his limited contribution at the Parc de Princes thus far, this again seems another money-making exercise rather than a move facilitated for footballing reasons.

For me, David Beckham at Manchester United was a gloriously gifted individual and one of the most effective players in the world. He fulfilled a role at United and was a constant source of goals, assists and consistent performances in a trophy-laden team.

Between 1998-2002, Beckham was certainly one of the best players in the world, but plenty of players can lay claim to a similar title over a similar period of time, and in the grand scheme of things, four years in a career spanning 20 is only a small cross section. 

But for the past decade I feel he has been akin to a Harlem Globetrotter, generating interest and headlines despite a paucity of substance, and although his fitness and quality have always remained high, I genuinely believe there are plenty of players from his generation who should be classed as better footballers than David Beckham.

Beckham's legend has been created through who he is rather than what he's done and I feel this is hugely unfair on others who have more talent and have had just as good—if not better—careers in purely footballing terms.

Therefore, I've put together the following list of 50 players that roughly straddle Beckham's generation, all of whom I feel deserve more acclaim than Beckham.

The criteria was difficult to come up with so most of it is fast and loose opinion, based upon ability, longevity, success and each individual's impact wherever they have been.

I have also only nominated those who have demonstrated continued excellence over sustained seasons, so new kids on the block like Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Mesut Ozil were not considered.

So, in short, here is my list of 50 players who I think are better footballers and have had better footballing careers than David Beckham, and as such, deserve more praise than him.

No Posh Spice, no Brylcreem, no Brand Beckham. This is football.

Let me know what you think.

In no particular order:

Lionel Messi


Andres Iniesta

Cristiano Ronaldo


Ryan Giggs

Roy Keane

Paul Scholes

Luis Figo

Zinedine Zidane





Thierry Henry

Dennis Bergkamp

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Clarence Seedorf

Robin van Persie

Samuel Eto'o

Andrei Shevchenko

Paolo Maldini

Fabio Cannavaro

Alessandro Nesta

Pavel Nedved

Javier Zanetti

Cristian Vieri

Frank Lampard

Didier Drogba

John Terry

Ashley Cole


Roberto Carlos

Andrea Pirlo

Wesley Sneijder

Steven Gerrard

Rio Ferdinand

Lillian Thuram

Patrick Vieira

Eric Djemba-Djemba

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Francesco Totti

Alessandro Del Piero

Philipp Lahm

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Iker Casillas

Gianluigi Buffon

Oliver Khan

Petr Cech

Edwin van der Sar

I'm sure there will be plenty of interest and contrasting views, so let me know your thoughts below, or hit me up on Twitter @bainesyDiego10


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