Beckham wings in as Southgate challenges England to make history
David Beckham will be in the stands in Kaliningrad to watch an England side Gareth Southgate hopes will be remembered as fondly as the country's former captain.
England face Belgium in their final World Cup Group G match on Thursday, with both sides having already reached the knockout stages courtesy of impressive wins over Tunisia and Panama.
Harry Kane tops the scoring charts with five so far at Russia 2018 and, in a competition where many of the big-guns have faltered and reigning champions Germany are on their way home, the Three Lions are eyeing three group stage wins out of three for the first time since 1982.
Former Manchester United and Real Madrid favourite Beckham starred as England captain after the turn of the century but had to be content with a pair of quarter-final exits at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Southgate welcomed his former international team-mate's backing and challenged his current squad to create their own enduring legacy.
"I had a message from David before the tournament and after our first or second game. It's nice that we're getting support from a lot of our former players," Southgate said
"This tournament is about our current players and their opportunity to create history.
"It's nice that he's coming to support. Maybe we'll see him but our attention is on this generation of players."
Beckham's fellow cap centurion Frank Lampard has suggested England could go all the way after a 6-1 romp against Panama saw Kane claim the match ball on the back of his last-gasp heroics in the 2-1 triumph over Tunisia.
A member of the current midfield crop, Tottenham's Eric Dier, was understandably keen to avoid such bold pronouncements as he spoke alongside his manager.
"It's nothing that we have discussed. We are focusing purely on one game at a time," Dier said.
"In a tournament and in football at any level if you look too far ahead you can get in trouble."