When Rio Ferdinand was left behind, Roy Hodgson said: "He is not a player you pick to be on standby." The England manager was paying Ferdinand a respectful compliment, suggesting the centre back was too good to sit on the bench. Fair enough. So what on earth was Stuart Pearce trying to prove by selecting Beckham in the shortlist of 35 before cutting him from the final squad?
Beckham is nearly 40. He was one of the best, if not the best, player our cherished island has had at its disposal in decades. While his football ability splits opinions more than marmite and pasty taxes combined, there is no doubt what an impassioned ambassador and servant he is and has been throughout his illustrious career for England.
The London 2012 website has a page dedicated to the icon, entitled "David Beckham, International Inspiration Ambassador". It is clear that for marketing purposes, officials involved will have banked on his inclusion. I recently took part in a consultation at one of the national papers to help design an Olympics supplement. Having presented it to an experienced executive, he stated almost immediately with calm conviction: "Right. So this is about the Olympics... And yet no one mentioned Beckham?"
This ostensible reverence does not merely stem from Brand Beckham. It is because since Britain celebrated defeating the French for the right to hold the Games, David Beckham and London 2012 have become synonymous, particularly to football fans. He was there from the start, lobbying and influencing voters. And his image has been used unashamedly to promote the very event at which he has been banned from performing.
Of course, in an ideal world, Team GB would be decided solely on merit. But football had already trivialised the Olympic games by reserving its best players for the Euros. The likes of Rooney and Gerrard will not be making an appearance as one of the over 23s. Nor will Oxlade-Chamberlain as one of the youngsters. Consequently, football as a whole has failed to take the Games seriously.
There is surely leeway therefore for a touch of sentimentality for the biggest name of all, without whom the Olympics could have been held in Paris. A player whose legs may have gone but whose right foot never will. A man who has won European and domestic titles in England, Spain and USA and has always offered his services for the national team.
What leaves a most bitter taste is that Micah Richards, a player who allegedly refused to be placed on standby for the Euros, is his replacement.
Rio Ferdinand was excluded from the Euro 2012 England squad for 'football reasons', we were told countless times.
Yes he was - but in that context the term 'football reasons' suggested the team would perform better with a healthier squad harmony. Unfortunately, as it turned out, they couldn't string three passes together - not many would employ the term 'harmonic' over 'utterly discordant' when referring to their teamwork and co-ordination on the ball.
But in the case of David Beckham, Pearce really did exclude him purely on football grounds. Put simply, Beckham is no longer as talented as Richards. However, I can't shake the feeling both decisions were misguided. Pearce, like the rest of the world, had a pretty good idea of Beckham's ability and off-the-field impact a year ago. His form is consistently good, having just played a pivotal role in three LA Galaxy victories in the space of a week and scored a trademark free-kick on Saturday.
For your viewing pleasure:
If he was never going to be selected for the final team, then Pearce has inflicted upon him an unwarranted discourtesy. Beckham deserved better treatment.
One thing is certain - when historians and sports fans around the world review the London 2012 Olympic Games in years to come, they will detect a puzzling golden ball-shaped hole in its legacy.