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By ESPN Staff

Sven surprised as Beckham steps down

Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted to being surprised at David Beckham's decision to quit as captain the day after England's World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Portugal.

But Eriksson conceded his own successor Steve McClaren will have 'many choices' as to who takes over as skipper - with John Terry the early front-runner.

Significantly Terry took charge when Beckham was substituted through sickness in the second-round encounter with Ecuador a week ago.

Gary Neville replaced Beckham as captain when he was injured against Portugal but age is likely to count against the 31-year-old, who admits he has probably played his last World Cup.

The other main candidate is Steven Gerrard who has been an inspirational leader for Liverpool and led England for the first time against Sweden in Gothenburg in March 2004.

Beckham was Eriksson's on-field lieutenant for the whole of his five-and-a-half year reign although it was caretaker boss Peter Taylor who first gave him the armband in November 2000 against Italy in Turin.

Eriksson said: 'I think David has been a very good captain. He did good work always.

'He has been very proud of doing the job. I was a little bit disappointed when he told me his decision to finish just before he announced it.

'But you have to respect that and that's it. He has been good.

'I think you will soon have a press conference with Steve McClaren and I think he has a lot of choices of who can be captain. There are many.'

Beckham wants to remain part of McClaren's plans as a player although Eriksson would not be drawn on the future of the former Manchester United star.

He said: 'Becks has said he wants to go on playing and it is up to Steve McClaren to decide that.'