Britain's David Beckham holding the Olympic torch (Photo: AP)
Former England captain David Beckham revealed Thursday he had not been picked for Great Britain's Olympic football squad.
Beckham, regarded as a potential skipper of the side, confirmed in a statement he had not made the final 18-man squad as one of coach Stuart Pearce's three over-age players.
Pearce had travelled to the United States to assess Beckham's form last week before making his decision.
"Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me," Beckham said in a statement. "So I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad.
"Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.
"As a Londoner I was really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town ... and I can't wait for the Games to begin and will enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain."
British media reports said the three over-age players chosen by Pearce were Beckham's former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs, Manchester City defender Micah Richards and Welshman Craig Bellamy.
Beckham, 37, had spoken repeatedly of his desire to play in an Olympics staged in London.
The former Real Madrid star was widely expected to be granted a place in the squad as reward for his role in helping London win the Olympics at the 2005 International Olympic Committee vote in Singapore.
The football superstar's presence on the campaign trail in Singapore is often credited as being one of the key factors in tipping the vote in London's favour during the final few days of lobbying.
Beckham's presence in the Olympic team looked assured after he was included in a 35-man shortlist earlier this month.
He had also accompanied the Olympic Flame from Athens back to Britain and carried it after it was lit before the torch relay got under way.
However British Olympic officials had insisted Pearce would have a free hand in selecting his squad and would not come under pressure to select Beckham, who would have generated box-office appeal for the football tournament.
"We have been very clear from the outset, it's absolutely Stuart's choice and he is totally free to make the selection of the team he believes will put in the best performance," British Olympic Association chief Andy Hunt said.
"It's as simple as that."
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter: @AO Sports / and Facebook AhramOnlineSports)