A Different Week – David Beckham – End of an American dream?

In January 2007 when it was announced that David Beckham would sign for LA Galaxy on a five-year contract worth an estimated £128m it seemed like a marriage made in heaven. American soccer would get a figurehead for their game whilst Beckham would be compensated heavily for trying to boost popularity for the sport in the United States. However after this weeks confrontation with a fan it seems like Becks’ American Dream has turned sour.

Of course, the real reason that Beckham gobbled up Galaxy’s riches was that it gave him (and his wife) the chance to expose brand Beckham on a worldwide scale. We saw the Beckham family acting cosy with the likes of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell. Well perhaps just the first two.

He even played a few games for them, smiled for some pictures and appeared in a cheesey American TV ad. He was living the American dream. It was admittedly slightly different in that he was already a millionaire, with a pop star wife and hugely successful football career, but it was a American dream nonetheless.

Yet the move to Los Angeles was precipitated by the fact that he thought his England career was over. Left out of squads by Steve McClaren, there surely was no way back. However England started to struggle, there was a danger they were not going to qualify for Euro 2008. They needed Becks back.

At first it looked like he would be content to stay with Galaxy and travel half the way round the world whenever England played. Yet during this time Becks finally came to the conclusion that everyone else had come to months, if not years before. Major League Soccer was to use a phrase Beckham is surely now accustomed to, not all that.

So he needed a new team at a more competitive level and it just so happened that Milan was looking for a football icon to provide them with some positive publicity after another season playing second fiddle to rivals Inter. It was only a five-month loan, Becks had to maintain some sort of loyalty to the team and country who’s game he wanted to develop.

Things went well for him at Milan as he scored some good goals, kept his place in the England squad and was well liked by his teammates and supporters. In fact things went so well that he did not want to go back to Galaxy and desperately angled for a permanent move to the Rossoneri. However, with his owners reluctant to sell and Milan suffering huge budget cuts, Becks had no choice but to hotfoot it back to the good old US of A at the end of the Italian season.

It would be fair to say that things have not gone swimmingly for Becks since his return to American soil. First Galaxy captain Landon Donavon arguing that his English teammate is “not committed” and secondly the aforementioned altercation with a Galaxy fan. It is not the first time Beckham has clashed with a fan but with this being one of his first games back – and in a high-profile friendly against Milan of all sides – it was the last thing he needed.

It is rare to see Becks get so riled, he normally comes across as a placid sort of chap. This week’s antics will not see him win favour with the American public. They like to see their heroes a bit more clean cut than that. One has to wonder what they would have made of Duncan Ferguson or Roy Keane.

What is even more damning is that throughout the whole game his every touch was booed by the Los Angeles faithful. His love affair with the American public seems to be at an end. Although he undoubtedly owes Galaxy, for the money if nothing else, it appears he will be heading back to European shores.

Milan is his most likely destination, yet although they have made suggestive noises nothing has come to fruition as of yet. Beckham has softened on his stance that he would never play for another English club so it is not of out the question that we will see Becks back on more familiar grounds. A return to Old Trafford is surely not on the cards but Arsene Wenger has always been an admirer, even if his age and salary does not scream Arsenal signing. His ex-Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has taken over at Chelsea and with his penchant for signing experienced players it is not impossible to see Becks lining up in Chelsea blue next season.

Wherever Becks ultimately plays his football next season, his American sojourn is the first time he has failed. Titles galore at Manchester United, ex-captain of England with over 100 caps, even his spell at Real Madrid was underrated. Unless things take a drastic turn for Beckham, his spell at LA Galaxy will leave a black mark at the end of an otherwise long and successful career.

Becks is also well known for his interesting use of the English language. This is the man who once said “My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about seven.” What is your favourite Beckham comment? Send your answers to [email protected]

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