25 MARCH 2008

Though the weather must have been a harsh contrast to that of his sunny California base, the biting cold had no effect on David Beckham's smile as he trained with his England team-mates in London this week.

Little wonder, as the LA Galaxy player is a man on the verge of realising his dream. When he takes to the Paris pitch for England's friendly against France on Saturday he will join an elite five-strong band of Englishmen who have played in 100 matches for their national team. With each participation known as earning a cap - from the former practise of presenting a physical cap to each player - the soccer ace will bring his total to a full century.

And it is a milestone which clearly means the world to the 32-year-old footie ace, who intends ensure the special moment stays in his memory, by keeping every mememto from the match. "I plan on keeping my shirt... the socks and everything possible I can grab in my changing room," he reveals. "I've been lucky to swap shirts with some great players, but I'll be keeping it this time."

Watching the moment Becks takes his place in football history at the Stade de France will be proud wife Victoria, his three boys Brooklyn, nine, five-year-old Romeo and Cruz, three, as well as his dad Ted, mum Sandra and his in-laws and cousins. The tight-knit family group, he says, have been there for him in his career from the word go.

"They've been through the ups and the downs and hard times," he says "When I've had down times they've pulled me through. Without them… I might not have been able to get through."

Photo: © Alphapress.com
Just days away from playing his 100th match for England, the 32-year-old midfielder shares a chilly training session with his team-mates Photo: © PA
Photo: © Alphapress.com
The 32-year-old footie ace is ecstatic at being back in the squad. "I am proud to wear the England shirt, to have worn it proudly for so many years," he says Photo: © Getty Images