David Beckham wasn’t the only one left disappointed last night after he was dropped from the England football squad.
Organisers and several hundred guests at a charity dinner in aid of cystic fibrosis were let down by the star when he pulled out as host at the last minute, hours after learning that he would not be included in the squad.
The Times understands that Beckham pulled out of the “Liv” event, expected to raise more than £1 million, less than two hours before it began. Organisers were given no explanation and he was replaced by Davina McCall, the television presenter.
Many of the celebrity guests, including fellow football star Peter Crouch, were left bemused by his no-show at the Dorchester in London.
The Liverpool player, who is included in the squad, told The Times: “I’ve no idea why he’s not here. It’s the first I’ve heard of it. It’s a bit disappointing. Of course I’d have liked to see him.” Emmanuel Adebayor, the Arsenal striker, said: “We have a chance to do something good to help these people. I’m sad that Beckham is not here.”
Beckham agreed to host the event after Thierry Henry, the Barcelona and ex-Arsenal player, dropped out. Fixture changes had left Henry – whose friend’s daughter suffers from cystic fibrosis – stranded in Spain.
Beckham dropped out hours after learning that he would not be in the England squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Switzerland, where he would have earned his 100th cap.
Guests at the charity event, which was also attended by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, whose 18-month-old son Fraser has cystic fibrosis, had paid £1,250 for their tickets. Angela Georgiou, an interior designer and Linda Ashley, a property developer, were at the head of the queue to get in.“We didn’t know about David not hosting,” Ms Georgiou said. “I was disappointed enough when Thierry dropped out because I’m a huge Barcelona fan.” Ms Ashley added: “I just hope that the replacement isn’t Kevin Keegan.” Sir Elton John performed at the event.
Guests took part in a silent auction to raise money for fighting the chronic disease. Jimmy Carr and Lucas were booked to entertain those attending the event, who included a young girl called Jessica who suffers from the disease.