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The former Three Lions boss reckons 'Golden Balls' has earned every single one of his caps.

If David Beckham features in England's friendly fixture with Spain tonight, it will be his 108th appearance for his country.

That would put him on par with the legendary Bobby Moore as his nation's most capped outfield player, and not everyone is completely happy about that.

Many of the 33-year-old midfielder's more recent international outings have come from the substitutes bench, with boss Fabio Capello usually preferring Theo Walcott to start on the right flank.

Some have suggested that Beckham's late trot-outs are undeserving of official recognition, but Peter Taylor has firmly refuted those claims.

The Wycombe Wanderers manager told The Sun, “I know some of the older generation haven’t been happy to see [Beckham] closing in on Bobby Moore’s record if he’s only playing for a few minutes as a sub. But if he clears a shot off the line, or sets up a goal, is the cap less worthy?

“He deserves every single one of his caps. We should think ourselves lucky we’ve got people like this who still want to play for their country instead of retiring from international football.

“He was never the sort of player to cry off with an injury. I always felt he wanted to be there all the time, which wasn’t something that could be said of every player.”

Taylor took temporary charge of the Three Lions in 2000 and was the man who first handed Beckham the the armband, making him captain of a very young side that took on Italy in Turin.

He continued, “I told the FA that I wanted to pick a younger squad. My options for a captain were Gary Neville, Gareth Southgate and David Beckham.

“I went with David because I remember him being sent off against Argentina in 1998 and how brilliant he was the following season despite getting stick wherever he went. The determination he showed was incredible.

“I also knew how much he enjoyed playing for his country and thought he would grab the opportunity.

“On the morning I was picking the squad I rang David and said you’re definitely in it and I’m going to name you as captain. He had a little chuckle. When I saw him again recently he thanked me for making him captain.

“I must admit when I made the decision back then I never expected him to be as famous as he is now and I didn’t expect him to win quite so many caps.”

It seemed after the last bout of World Cup qualifiers, in which he was a bit-part player, that Beckham had dropped out of Capello's plans.

Indeed, the Italian tactician made no secret of his belief that the former Real Madrid man had to leave the Los Angeles Galaxy and return to Europe to continue his international career.

Beckham has done just that, joining Milan on a lean deal that is set to expire in March, but such has been his impact at the San Siro that he and club are hoping to tie up a permanent deal.

Taylor added, “Going to America surprised me because I still felt he could be playing in the Premier League, the Spanish or Italian leagues. But, getting back into the England squad, he has shown how professional he is.”

Nevertheless, the contrast between Beckham and Moore as footballers and personalities is vivid, but Taylor - a close friend of the late West Ham United star and World Cup winner - ranks them side by side.

“It was an honor to know Bobby Moore and I don’t think any less of David,” he said.

“We’re talking about different times, two very different eras. But both were brilliant captains for England and both were always desperate to play for England.”

Mike Maguire, Goal.com

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