LA Galaxy, AC Milan and England midfielder David Beckham is here in Cape Town for the World Cup Draw tomorrow evening and took time out of his busy schedule with FIFA to give an interview to… FIFA. Unsurprisingly, (for all the reasons you are thinking of, be they contractual or otherwise) he seems happy to be here:
When I was last here with England, I had the honour of meeting Nelson Mandela. That was the highlight of my career; to meet such a great man and a strong man and such a passionate man about sport and life will always stay with me. Then I played in the game and broke my arm! South Africa is such a great country and a sporting nation that deserves this World Cup. I think it will be a very memorable and special one.
And on Cape Town’s preparations for 2010:
When you visit the country that a tournament is being held in before the event, you get a special feeling. As the time approaches, you notice that feeling intensify. As soon as I landed here in Cape Town, I noticed changes in the roads, as well as new hotels and it seemed as though the people’s excitement was tangible. There’s no better feeling than that.
And he’s right. I’m beginning to notice that projects are nearing their end. The N2 is almost quite wide again. The N1 is really wide. I was at the airport last night and was astounded at the progress that has been made. The Stadium handover is only a few days away. My study is built and has a great view from the window.
As for the vibe – I mentioned it here – you just know that there is something very special going on right now. And if this is what it’s like for some balls being taken out of goldfish bowls, then I can only begin to imagine what next June is going to be like. Aside from greyer and damper, obviously. But it will be party time in the rain, believe me.
There are those who were fine with the road closures for their private party, but who are bitching about other people having fun; complaining about the security and the hugely busy CBD, moaning about the helicopters flying over the City Bowl; but they just don’t get it. This is big. Bigger than a little awards ceremony, bigger than your beloved rugby, bigger even than the end of Apartheid, according to some people in the know. Sure, you’ve never seen anything like it and you don’t want to be part of it, but doing your best to justify that decision while those around you are being swayed by the feeling is really not pretty.