David Beckham is a football icon renowned throughout the world. He will never been remembered as one of the great legends, but what he lacked in talent he made up for with desire and work ethic. This week sees David Beckham return to Manchester United for the first time since he left the club in 2003.
Beckham will need to look upon all his experience in European football to help AC Milan overcome the 3-2 deficit. In the first leg Beckham looked out of place amongst the midfielders and was unable to have any influence on his side, Clarence Seedorf replaced him in the 76th minute and scored Milan’s second. This return to Old Trafford is sure to be one he is determined to win and one that he will want to have an impact on.
Milan coach, Leonardo will only be too aware of Beckham’s history with United but will want to ensure the spotlight is on the playing field and the entire team not just on his no. 32. He will also realise that the midfielder can still cause problems for the Reds with his long cross field balls. His ability to switch play, cross the ball and score from set pieces still makes him a player that most would want in their side. He offers a different style of play to Gattuso and Ambrosini, he is a more attacking player who can support Ronaldinho at the front.
It is the maturity and composure of the English talisman that has helped him to stay in the England squad. He became out of favour when Fabio Capello was at Real Madrid, but his continued efforts in training and his discipline at maintaining a high level of fitness did not fail to impress Capello. Although most recent appearances for his country have been made from the bench he is still highly thought of by the Italian.
Beckham is unlikely to last 90 minutes in a match anymore but whether he starts or comes on as a substitute he can change a match. It may not be a moment of magic that gets the crowd on their feet, it may not even be one of his trademark free kicks but his arrival on the pitch at whatever stage of a game will have an impact on his team mates. He is a respected player in the dressing room and on the pitch – his leadership skills can bring the best out of players around him.
The midfielder is not the man he once was, but he still has the ability to bring something to the football pitch. The Milan match will be an occasion which should bring the best out of the player. Leonardo would be foolish not use the Englishman. It will be Beckham’s last chance to show his fans what he can still do. He should be allowed to finally say goodbye to the fans that he adored for so many years. He will not want to leave the Theatre of Dreams dreaming of what could have been. The match is still there to be won and David Beckham will want to make sure it is the Italian devils who walk away with the spoils.