In June just before the World Cup, Fabio Capello brought David Beckham into the team as a team mascot after the midfielder had torn his achilles tendon ruling him out of the World Cup.
To that obligation was tacked on the additional responsibility of improving communication between Capello and the players. Becks was to play translator and make sure everyone was on the same page tactically. And something about improving Aaron Lennon's crossing ability.
The world saw a dandified Beckham on the sideline sharing space with the England manager. They looked like a fine pair sharing the same sense of doom as the team sank into oblivion.
Well, today Capello needed no translation as he clearly if cruelly told Beckham to hang up his international boots. Maybe Beckham taught him too well.
The cruel part. It was not a personal call but on the public airwaves that Capello called Beckham's time.
"I won't pick him for any more competitive games. I change it. We need players for the future with Fabio Capello and the managers after me. I have to look for new players. He was a fantastic player but age is important for all people, not only David."
Clear and cruel. Terse and tactless. Critics will look it as a misstep in the lines of the outmoded 4-4-2 or his ill conceived Capello Index. And it is true, there are far fewer Capello fans left in England right now for him to indulge in too many episodes of hubris. He could have called up Beckham rather than taking this more publicly humiliating route.
But it needed to be done. How can Capello be taken seriously rebuilding the England team with an eye on the future with the Beckham albatross hanging on? Dead ball artist? In the absence of any self realization on the Galaxy man's part would the game have to invent a special teams squad to move in and out of the pitch to accommodate him. The latter was never going to happen.
Just in case Beckham lost something in translation - his farewell is already planned.
" I think, I hope, that when David is OK he can play here in a friendly at Wembley to say 'goodbye' and 'thank you very much'."
Capello has already revealed that he is not the steady hand once thought but in fact quite capricious. It is left to conjecture whether Paul Scholes meets the new age requirements. A few months ago it was revealed that the England manager had tried to coax him out of international retirement. Scholes himself said that he was tempted to throw in his hand after the World Cup. He is still central to Man Utd's future which will prove tempting to Capello.
Beckham's reaction to Capello's pronouncement will be interesting. A few things come to mind. His rehabilitation is going well in advance and now he is slated for a September return. Does he commit to a LA Galaxy future unhindered by any national team ambition? Or does he look for another club in the big European leagues suspecting perhaps that Capello's epitaph is driven by his disdain for his MLS venture? I suspect the latter. Brand Beckham will roll on till the wheels come off.