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Beckham To MLS

LONDON (AP) – David Beckham agreed to a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, leaving the Real Madrid club at which he enjoyed worldwide popularity but experienced disappointment on the field.

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Beckham, the former English captain who also starred for Manchester United, will join the Galaxy after his contract with Real Madrid expires on June 30. Los Angeles opens its season April 8 in Houston.

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“I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world’s most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own,” he said in a statement released Thursday.

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The move was announced following the end of talks on extending the 31-year-old midfielder’s contract with the Spanish club. MLS recently changed its rules on salary caps, clearing the way for Beckham to sign a lucrative deal. British news reports put the Galaxy deal at US$250 million.

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“This week, Real Madrid asked me to make a decision regarding my future and the offer to extend my contract by a further two seasons,” Beckham said. “After discussing several options with my family and advisers to either stay here at Madrid or join other major British and European clubs, I have decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the MLS from August this year.”

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Beckham has soccer academies in London and Los Angeles. His wife Victoria, a former Spice Girl, was recently photographed househunting in Los Angeles.

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“David Beckham will have a greater impact on soccer in America than any athlete has ever had on a sport globally,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president & CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy. “David is truly the only individual that can build the bridge between soccer in America and the rest of the world.”

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Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003 after a hugely successful run with Manchester United, where he won six league titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League title. But Beckham did not win a single major trophy with the Spanish club and his spell coincided with Madrid’s worst slump since the early 1950s.

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“I have enjoyed my time in Spain enormously and I am extremely grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to play for such a great team and their amazing fans,” Beckham said.

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Beckham has been unhappy this season at Madrid under coach Fabio Capello. He has started only seven of 25 matches and was left off the squad for Thursday’s Copa del Rey match against Real Betis.

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“For the rest of this season I will continue to give 100 per cent to my coach, teammates and fans as I believe Fabio Capello will bring this club and its supporters the success they truly deserve,” said Beckham, who trained with Madrid in the Spanish capital Thursday.

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Before the season started, Beckham led England to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, scoring from a free kick in the second round to beat Ecuador 1-0.

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But he was taken off the field early in the second half against Portugal with ankle and Achilles tendon injuries and then watched as his team was eliminated in a penalty shootout.

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A day after the game, Beckham stepped down as captain of the team – a post he had held for 58 of his 94 international appearances. Then, on Aug. 11, England coach Steve McClaren dropped Beckham from the team altogether, signalling the end of his international career.

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Then came more heartache in Madrid. He was injured in November when he was allowed to travel to Rome to visit Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but Beckham was forced to skip the wedding and return to Madrid to sit on the bench – another sign that his days in Madrid under Capello were numbered.

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The move to Los Angeles won’t surprise many people; Beckham has a soccer academy in Carson, Calif.

© The Canadian Press 2007
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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2007 at 12:26 pm and is filed under All, Interesting.

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