CARSON, Calif. -- Stuart Pearce baffled a nation (or four) when he spurned David Beckham in his Great Britain roster for the London Olympics. He also confused Jose Mourinho.
“There is something I don't understand,” Mourinho said as part of a self-initiated tangent during a press conference in the Home Depot Center. “I know because I was also inside of that project: if now the Olympic Games are in London, it is because of him. It's because of Sebastian Coe and other people, but he was the most important face of that project. I don't understand why he's not playing. I cannot understand.”
Beckham was part of earlier player pools, and Pearce visited the United States to watch him play in person, but Becks missed the final cut to represent his country in his childhood home of east London. Instead, Pearce included former teammate Ryan Giggs, Micah Richards and Craig Bellamy as the three permitted overage players.
Thus far it hasn't gone poorly for the British. Bellamy scored against Senegal in the opening draw, and Giggs notched in the 3-1 win over the UAE. A 1-0 result against a strong Uruguay side pushed the host through to the knockout rounds.
Still, Mourinho maintains, Beckham could have added to the group. The Real Madrid coach referenced Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, to explain what Beckham adds to a group.
“I think in a group of 18 players you have football qualities to give [and] human qualities to give, the Pierre de Coubertin ideal,” Mourinho said. “I think he's one of the best soccer professionals to express what is the ideal of Pierre de Coubertin. I'm so sorry he's not there.”
The admiration is mutual.
“I think he's an exceptional manager,” Beckham said. “He's an amazing human being as well. What he does for teams and what he does for players, individuals is very special. There's not many managers that can do that.
“He's a very special person and manager. I think what he's achieved in his career, his very short career so far, is amazing."
The 37-year-old revealed that when he tore his Achilles tendon while on loan with AC Milan, an injury which ruled him out of the 2010 World Cup, Mourinho rang him to express sympathy.
“He was one of the first people to call me after I ruptured my Achilles,” the former Madrid midfielder said. “He kept in touch with me. It makes him a great human being.”
The two have met many times – most recently in a 5-1 Los Blancos win in a friendly against the LA Galaxy on Thursday night – but never overlapped at a club.
“Beckham is always very nice to me,” Mourinho said. “He has always very good words to me. I'm so sorry I could never be his coach, because I would love it. Now it is too late because David is in the last years of his career.”
Follow ZAC LEE RIGG on or shoot him an email