By Sportsmail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 05:32 EST, 28 June 2012 | UPDATED: 09:50 EST, 28 June 2012
David Beckham is stunned after being left out of the Great Britain Olympic football squad by Stuart Pearce.
The former England captain seemed to be certain to be part of the summer event but Micah Richards, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs have been picked as the over-23 players in the 18-man squad.
Pearce called Beckham on Wednesday night to inform him of the decision, explaining that he had enough cover for midfield and he wanted to add experience to his defence.
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Shock: Only three of the players on the team are allowed to be over 23 years old
Big role: Beckham has played an instrumental part in the run-up to the games
BECKHAM'S OLYMPIC AID
2005 - Played a major part in Britain's successful bid for the Games
2008 - Appeared in the Beijing closing ceremony
2012 - Flew out to Greece to collect the Olympic Torch and carried it in Britain
The 37-year-old superstar, who currently plies his trade for MLS side LA Galaxy, played a massive role in Britain securing the games in 2005 and has stayed involved in a huge capacity since.
Beckham said on Thursday: 'Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me. So I would have been honoured to have been part of this unique Team GB squad.'
He added: 'Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.
'As a Londoner, I will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb's [Coe] team, and I can't wait for the games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain.'
Beckham was included in Pearce's 35-man shortlist for the Games but has not made the final cut.
Watching: Stuart Pearce went to see Beckham in action before he made his decision
Beckham's relentless efforts on the Olympic front make his exclusion all the more surprising.
He accompanied the Olympic Flame from Athens to British soil and carried it in Cornwall after it was lit.
Beckham also took part in the closing ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the London 2012 team, as he racked up the air miles.
He flew from his club in Los Angeles to London to play for England in a friendly against the Czech Republic, before then making it to Beijing for the show and then back to LA for training.
The British Olympic Association will also be surprised by the decision to leave Beckham out.
Curtain call: Beckham at the Beijing closing ceremony
But BOA chief Andy Hunt had previously stated Pearce has free reign to do as he pleases with the squad.
He said: 'Stuart Pearce will make a decision on the best squad available given where he is in respect of now having assessed the players that are not involved in the Euros and the current state of injuries.
'He will then make the best call he can - on merit. I am not putting any pressure of him whatsoever to pick anyone. We discussed the whole topic of selecting over-23 players back more than a year ago but I haven't subsequently.
Effort: London 2012 sport ambassadors (from left) Beckham Sir Steven Redgrave and Denise Lewis
Delight: Beckham and his wife Victoria (left) leave the London 2012 celebration party after London won the Games in 2005
'We have been very clear from the outset, it's absolutely Stuart's choice and he is totally free to make the selection of the team he believes will put in the best performance. It's as simple as that.'
As a global superstar Beckham would have been a big pull for fans to come and watch Team GB at the games and get excited about the Olympic football - which is not normally a major pull.
Beckham is still expected to come to the Games in some aspect and may have a role to play at the opening ceremony.
Beckham could point out that he would have at least been match-fit while all the other players would be entering the tournament after the summer break.
Present and correct: Beckham has flown over the world to help the bid
Giggs and Bellamy were widely expected to be included but the call-up of Richards is also as much of a surprise as the Manchester City defender being left out of England's Euro 2012 squad - after which he refused to go on standby for the European Championship.
Other under-23 players who are almost certain to be confirmed by Pearce include Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey and Tottenham's Gareth Bale.
Manchester United had told the FA in May that they did not want any of their over-age players apart from Welsh winger Giggs to be considered for selection.
The club ruled out Pearce picking Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Jonny Evans for the Olympic tournament.
It means United players Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling, who both missed Euro 2012 through injury, may be part of the Olympic squad.
Beckham could however still play his part in the Games.
Vow: Lord Coe could still find a role for Beckham to play at London 2012
LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe said he would now discuss a 'Games time role' with the globally recognised sports figure who played a role in London winning the Olympics.
Beckham has been used extensively in the buildup to the event and helped to bring back the flame from Greece.
'David has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our No 1 supporter, of the Games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end,' said Coe.
'He really gets this. He is from East London and knows how important the Games and sport are to young people.
'He is a great role model and we are lucky to have such an advocate. I will be talking to him about a Games time role.'
As a result of the decision to leave Beckham out of the Team GB football squad, odds have been slashed for him to light the Olympic cauldron. British bookmakers Ladbrokes quoted odds of 5/1.
In: Ryan Giggs (right) looks set to be named in the Team GB squad
Critics, who believe football has an uneasy place in the Games because of the vast sums of money professionals earn, have said they would be uncomfortable with the Olympics becoming a 'David Beckham show'.
The Olympic soccer tournament, originally designed for amateurs but now the only Games event to have an age limit, is not so highly regarded in Europe where the World Cup and European Championship are seen as the elite tests.
Olympic football is popular among South American players, however.
Hosts Britain, taking part in their first Olympic soccer finals since 1960, will kick off their bid for gold against Senegal at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium on July 26.
The Welsh Football Association, along with the Scots and Northern Irish, have been concerned that the inclusion of their players in a rare British squad for the Games could affect their soccer independence but football’s world governing body FIFA has tried to allay their fears.
If you still want to keep the Beckham dream alive, why not pay a visit to sportsdirect.com?
They were selling Team GB football shirts on Thursday morning with his name printed on the back at £49.99 each.