Buehlertal, July 2 :

David Beckham quit as England captain on Sunday, the morning after his side went out in the World Cup quarterfinals on penalties to Portugal.

Beckham left the field with a leg injury in the 52nd minute on Saturday. England played for almost an hour with 10 men after Wayne Rooney was given a red card, but held the Portuguese to 0-0 after 120 minutes. Beckham could not participate in the subsequent penalty shootout, which Portugal won 3-1.

A tearful Beckham read from a statement in front of a crowded news conference in England’s training camp in southern Germany, stressing that he wanted to continue playing for England.

“On November 15, 2000, Peter Taylor gave me the greatest honour in making me captain of England and fulfilling my childhood dream,” he said. “Now almost six years later... I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter in a new era under Steve McClaren.” Beckham wrote the statement late last night.

Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard or Chelsea’s John Terry are the most likely to take over from Beckham as captain. Both are captains for their Premier League clubs. Beckham has been captain for 58 of 94 England caps. He said he had decided “some time ago” to quit.

“This decision has been the most difficult of my career to date,” he said. “But after discussing it with my family and those closest to me, I feel the time is right.”

McClaren takes over as England coach from Sven-Goran Eriksson in August. “It has been an honour and a privilege to have captained our country and I want to stress that I wish to continue to play for England and look forward to helping both the new captain and Steve McClaren in any way I can.”

Beckham walked out immediately after reading his statement, getting loud applause. Beckham’s first WC in 1998 was marked by a red card against Argentina in the second round. That game went to penalties and England lost.