Beckham basks in a moment of vindication

A fairytale end to his last season in Europe could herald a shiny new beginning for David Beckham. By Daniel Taylor.

As David Beckham left the A Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, flashing those expensive-looking teeth and surrounded by blazered heavies, his smile was of a man enjoying one of those rare moments of near-complete satisfaction. Beckham's season has been a wild graph of lows and highs but, like every good story, it seems to come with its own happy ending.

Providing his twisted ankle holds up Beckham can now turn his thoughts to the final match of his Real Madrid career and the possibility of finishing his time in Spain with the Liga winner's medal that once seemed destined to elude him.

Beckham will leave Madrid for his new life with Los Angeles Galaxy with that coveted medal in his luggage.

Beyond that the future is not so clear, at least not in international terms, with Steve McClaren noticeably reluctant to say anything that could be taken as confirmation the former captain would continue to be picked after he becomes the face of Major League Soccer.

McClaren was surely just playing the politician, dodging the important issues with half-answers and neat swerves, because the only logical conclusion to draw from Beckham's contribution to England's 3-0 win in Estonia was that we have not seen the last of Beckham for some time.

Such was the crush to interview him after the match that the security barriers in the interview area came close to being toppled over. Beckham, lithe and athletic and naturally blessed with a remarkable stamina, said he could play for England for several more years and when he was asked whether he would be involved in Euro 2008 the 32-year-old smiled again and said he would "definitely be there".

It was a rather presumptuous statement, not least because England are still far from guaranteed of emerging unscathed from their qualifying group, but on this occasion Beckham could probably be forgiven for taking his place in the squad for granted. Certainly the outcry if McClaren were to drop him again would be far greater than when the manager disposed of him after the World Cup or, indeed, when he sent out for the former captain again a fortnight ago. For the time being at least Beckham may have, in effect, made himself undroppable, regardless of the obvious drawbacks that are associated with his imminent move to Hollywood and a league of big bucks but little kudos. One certainty is that nobody should believe any longer that his call-up was a short-term fix. Or that he will be marooned four short of becoming a 100-cap player.

"He still has something to offer England next season, no matter what league he is in," was Frank Lampard's take. "When he is playing like he is it doesn't matter where he is making his living. He could be playing in the park with his mates but I'd still have him in my team because when he delivers balls with that right foot he makes goals."

Lampard was not the only one of Beckham's team-mates wanting to state a case for his retention and McClaren, who consults his players more than any England manager before him, should note in particular that his strikers were especially effusive.

"It is fantastic for me having him back," said Peter Crouch, who benefited from one of Beckham's sumptuous deliveries to score his 12th England goal in 19 appearances. "As soon as I heard of his recall I was delighted because he is probably the best in the world at crossing the ball. For me personally, it is fantastic knowing that if I get into the box and find a bit of space, he will invariably find my head."

Another of Beckham's speciality crosses lifted Michael Owen out of a hitherto peripheral performance to present him with his first goal since returning from his ruptured knee ligaments in the World Cup. "His quality is undoubted," said Owen. "He is the best crosser in the world. He has great vision and he is a great passer. It was a cracking ball for my goal."

The question that will pursue McClaren is whether Beckham can combine playing in Los Angeles with starring for England? "If he keeps on playing like that and creating goals, I am all for it," said Crouch. But that is the issue. Can Beckham maintain this level when he is playing in a league so inferior to those in Spain and England? It is a debate that will run and run.

@ Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007