Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham was in the middle of answering a question before a reporter’s cell phone that was doubling as a recorder rang. Beckham acknowledged the incoming call to the approximately 100 media members in attendance by making a joke out of the situation and there was laughter in abundance from both parties.
That was about as light-hearted as it got for the star Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder in what was his second-to-last press conference as an MLS player.
Talking to reporters for nearly a half-hour inside of the Home Depot Center on Thursday, Beckham seriously discussed a myriad of topics, ranging from his six-year stay with the in Los Angeles to what the future holds for him. Beckham reflected on both the highs and lows that he has experienced as a member of the Galaxy and he also reiterated why he wants to continue to play even if he wins a second straight MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
“It could be a really nice way to bow out, but I do believe I’ve got another challenge inside me,” said Beckham. “I do feel like I can play, I don’t know for how many years left, but I do feel like I can still play.”
While Beckham’s time with the Galaxy could still end on a bitter note if Los Angeles loses in front of its home fans on Saturday afternoon, the former England international is looking back on his time with the club with mostly fond memories. He has admittedly grown as a player and accomplished all that he set out to do when he first joined the Galaxy back in 2007.
“I’ve had an amazing six years here, it’s been a great experience,” said Beckham. “It’s been a challenge in the first couple of years, but a challenge that I knew I would get up against and one that I was going to succeed in. Winning the championship last year for me was the icing on the cake.”
As enjoyable as things have been in recent years, Beckham knows that his first couple of seasons were anything but smooth. Beckham was often criticized by fans and local media for his lack of commitment in the early years with the Galaxy and he said being the subject of boos and harsh banners from his own fans was among the most difficult moments he dealt with while in Los Angeles.
“I’ve never been booed by my own fans with other clubs,” said Beckham. “But I had that at a certain point here and I overcame that and I think we’ve kind of won the fans around now and they’re appreciative of what the team has done over the last three or four years.”
Moments like those have admittedly helped Beckham grow, especially as some of his physical attributes have dwindled. The 37-year-old Beckham admits his mind thinks quicker now than it did when he was younger, and that allows him to make up for any shortcomings he may have physically.
Still, Beckham is eager for what lies ahead. Aside from trying to tackle one more challenge in his playing career, Beckham is looking forward to the day he can return to MLS in an ownership role.
“It’s something I’m excited about it,” said Beckham, whose contract with MLS gives him an option to purchase a MLS club at a reduced price. “It’s something that, again, I think proves my commitment to the league and whatever club I become part-owner or owner of. I’m excited about that.”
Why, though, is someone of Beckham’s stature so keen on returning to MLS when he could likely buy into one of the more prestigious clubs in the world? The answer for Beckham is simple.
“I want to see this league continue to grow,” said Beckham. “I think and I know it’s the No. 1 sport in the world. There’s other great sports here, of course, but I think it can compete with the basketball, American football, baseball, so that’s why I’m totally committed to that.”
Before Beckham can turn the page on his time as a Galaxy player, he will need to try and help Los Angeles oust the Dynamo. Doing so will give Beckham a second consecutive MLS Cup and will allow him to ride into the sunset as a champion, just as he did with Manchester United and Real Madrid before moving on for greener pastures.
“I just feel that as a player, as a professional, sometimes it’s hard to walk away from places,” said Beckham. “It’ll definitely be hard for me to walk away from the Galaxy because I’ve gained a lot of friends here, on and off the field, and we’ve got an amazing franchise that’s run unbelievably well by the owners.
“But it’s not just about the owners. It’s not about the players and the staff that we’ve got around. We’ve (also) got amazing fans, we’ve got amazing backroom staff that do a hell of a job to get us to where we are today. I’m going to miss all of them.”
They will likely miss him just as much.