Beckham seeks new ground for curtain call
LOS ANGELES (AFP) –
Former England captain David Beckham believes he still has a lot left in the tank and that wherever he ends up playing next season it will be at a “high level”.
“I still feel I have one more challenge in me as a player,” Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Beckham said. “Even at 37 years old I can still play at a high level. Where that will be I haven’t decided.”
Beckham on Tuesday also dismissed talk of retirement saying he has some “exciting options on the table” as he gets set to wrap up his six-year California adventure.
“People talk about my retirement but I still feel I have something left in the game to give,” said Beckham, speaking after the Galaxy’s practice at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham said he doesn’t know what his future plans are except that he hopes to go out with a bang when the Galaxy host Houston in the Major League Soccer Cup final early next month.
He said he won’t be playing in the MLS next season but his family enjoys living in southern California and they plan to remain in the area in a limited capacity.
“I haven’t decided where we might go next,” Beckham said. “My playing career with the Galaxy ends next Saturday.
“I have some exciting options on the table. I don’t feel if I am ready to retire right now.”
The veteran of three World Cups said he hopes to return to North America as an owner of a team.
“Management is something that I am not interested in but ownership definitely,” he said.
Beckham said he should be ready to make an announcement about where his next stop will be around Christmas time.
“Right now my focus is on the final and once that is out of the way we have a tour to do.
“And then it is Christmas which we always spend in London and I will be there and I will make my decision then.”
There have been reports out of Australia that their professional league was trying to woo him to make a move Down Under and there was an immediate statement of intent from Melbourne Heat with chief executive Scott Munn saying the club would make an offer.
Beckham’s name has also been linked to the Western Sydney Wanderers while the Central Coast Mariners, based north of Sydney, are similarly thought to be keen.
There has also been some interest from European clubs with Qatari-backed Paris Saint Germain having come close to signing Beckham earlier this year and he spent two short loan spells at AC Milan in 2009 and 2010.
When pressed for an response on where he could end up for his last hurrah, Beckham said: “I haven’t made a decision. My decision will be made in December or in the next year.”
Beckham said he knew several weeks ago that he was going to play his last game with the Galaxy this year but wanted to wait for the right moment to announce it.
“I have been thinking about it for a few months and came to my final decision a few weeks back. Now reaching the MLS Cup final in our stadium in front of our own fans, I thought it would be right time for me to announce it.”
Beckham has spent the past six seasons with the Galaxy, leading Los Angeles to an MLS Cup title last season when they defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0.
Beckham and the Galaxy go for their second consecutive crown when they face the Dynamo in a repeat of last year’s final on December 1 at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham has had a huge impact on the game since his arrival in Los Angeles in 2007. Average attendance has shot up and the league has added seven teams in that time. Galaxy games are now televised globally.
“There is no doubt the MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Beckham’s original five-year $32.5 million contract made him worth more than the entire roster of the Galaxy. But before the team’s owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group, could sign him they had to convince the league to break its salary cap.
So the MLS created a designated player rule which also became known as the Beckham Rule.
“When I first came here people expected me to score 10 goals and that was never going to happen,” he said. “Wherever I played there has always been expectations. Whether I reach them, that is for other people to decide just what my impact was.”