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Ex-England soccer star Beckham backs 'In' camp ahead of EU vote

Former British soccer player David Beckham smiles at the Evening Standard Theatre awards in London November 30, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall/Files
Former British soccer player David Beckham smiles at the Evening Standard Theatre awards in London November 30, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Former England soccer captain David Beckham on Tuesday backed the "In" campaign in Britain's European Union membership referendum this week, to the delight of Prime Minister David Cameron and those who want Britons to stay in the bloc.

In a statement issued by Britain Stronger in Europe campaign ahead of Thursday's vote, the popular and influential Beckham explained he came to his decision by recalling how colleagues from across Europe had helped him triumph while at Manchester United.

He said the core of the team that won English and European titles had been made up of British players "but we were a better and more successful team because of a Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, the leadership of an Irishman Roy Keane and the skill of a Frenchman in Eric Cantona."

Beckham also said he had been privileged to play and live in Madrid, Milan and Paris during his career.

"We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong.  For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone," Beckham said in the statement issued on Tuesday.

"For these reasons I am voting to Remain."

On Monday, the head of the Premier League said the top soccer clubs of England and Wales backed a "Remain" vote because leaving the EU would run counter to their global approach to business.

"I'm delighted to see David Beckham is supporting Stronger IN and will vote Remain," Cameron said on Twitter. "David Beckham is clear: we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone."

(Reporting by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden)

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