Tuesday, January 30, 2007


David Beckham said his blockbuster decision to move to the L.A. Galaxy from Real Madrid for a record £128million deal was not hard and he made the move because he cares about the sport of football.

"It was a difficult decision but not a hard one to make. I have played in top-flight football for 15 years with two of the biggest clubs in the world, so stepping away from that was difficult," the former England captain told a press conference in Los Angeles via satellite from Madrid.

"But the decision to join LA wasn't hard, I think there's a huge opportunity out there for us.

"For me it is all about the football and that is the biggest thing for me."

Beckham's move to the MLS club sent American media outlets salivating about what his arrival could mean for a sport that struggles to compete for audiences with the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.

The 31-year-old discounted his immediate impact on US soccer, but said he had long-term ambitions of witnessing an American renaissance for the sport.

"Me coming to the States will not make soccer the biggest sport in America. There are so many other great sports that it is hard sometimes to compete," the former Manchester United midfielder said.

"But soccer has huge, huge potential and I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference. This is something I believe in.

"Hopefully this could create something that we have all never seen before."

After spending his entire career with Manchester United and now Real Madrid Beckham is also relishing the challenge of playing with team-mates who are less accustomed to the European game.

"I know Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan and there are many other young talents in that team as well," he said

"I have been lucky to get great experience and play with some great team-mates and in two of the best teams in the world, and that is what I hope to pass on.

"I am not coming to be a superstar, I am coming to be part of a team."

Beckham's five-year $250 million is the biggest in the history of football, and was enabled by a rule change allowing MLS clubs to pay one player above the league's normal salary cap.

Though talk has already started about a European exodus to the States in a league where the salary cap had previously prevented such a possibility, Beckham said this was not his goal.

"My move is not to create other opportunities for other players to follow me over here straight away - it's to play football and give my advice to young players."

"There are going to be times when my team-mates might ask me about my experiences in European football - but I think I can give to children.

"One of my biggest passions is working with kids - I love it, that's the reason I started my academies, to see how happy we can make them. It's one of the differences I want to make and there is huge potential for that."

Beckham also said that he hopes the move will lift his celebrity in the USA, saying he even received advice from actor friend Tom Cruise on how to deal with the added attention.

"About four years ago I came to LA and I got a few people coming up to me who recognised me," Beckham said.

"I went back a year ago and looked out of a window and there were 45 paparazzi cars outside - it was slightly different.

"I'm not as recognised in the United States as I am around Europe - but hopefully playing for Galaxy will change that."

Still, Beckham insisted he is focused on the sport and not the celebrity.

"Soccer has grown in the last five to 10 years," Beckham said.

"Soccer has grown a lot but this is one of the reasons I want to take this challenge up - I want to take it to another level."

No comments: