David Beckham wrapped up a six-year stint in America by playing his final game in Major League Soccer (MLS) Saturday, capping his time with the Los Angeles Galaxy with back-to-back championship titles.
The former England captain Beckham concluded his US soccer career with bang, not only leading the Galaxy to a 3-1 win over Houston and their fourth MLS Cup crown, but his presence has helped the league achieve unprecedented growth and newfound respect overseas.
Beckham is now set to begin a new chapter with another club in a brilliant football career that has allowed him to also win titles in his final games with Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Beckham deflected questions Saturday about where his next stop would be.
“I have no idea,” Beckham said. “More important I am happy wearing this uniform today. I am happy I’ve been successful with this club.”
At 37, Beckham’s career is coming to a close but he has been careful not to mention the word retirement.
He is expected to make a decision on where he will end up playing next by the end of the year.
Sources close to the player have confirmed an approach by Monaco. He has also been linked with a possible move to Ligue 1 high-flyers Paris Saint-Germain where he would team up again with Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti and team director Leonardo, whom he knows from his two previous loan stints with AC Milan.
There have also been offers from China, Russia and Brazil for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player, who says he could not see himself playing in the Premier League for anyone other than Manchester United.
Beckham celebrated in the Galaxy dressing room with his teammates, taking turns spraying each other with bottles of Korbell champagne. Both happy and relieved, Beckham paused at one point during the post-match press conference, after losing his train of thought then said, “Too much champagne already.”
“At the end of the day, winning a championship in my last game at Manchester United and winning a championship in my last game with Real Madrid and then winning championship here in my last game it never gets old,” Beckham said.
“The feeling of making the final, the preparation, the feeling around the club it never gets old. I am 37 and I have been able to play in quite a few finals and championship games. I still love it like I did when I won my first.”
Even before Saturday’s victory, Beckham had made a huge impact on the league since he began playing for the Galaxy in 2007.
The league has expanded from 12 to 19 teams and it has more than doubled its overall attendance. Beckham hopes to get back into the league one day as an owner of an MLS team.
“It is better going out with two titles than one,” Beckham said. “It has been a successful six years here with reaching three MLS Cup finals. I will enjoy this one tonight.
“I just hope people have enjoyed me playing here and watching me play for the Galaxy.
“My impact will be down to what other people decide. But I think I have had a successful time here. When I came here six years ago my commitment was to the Galaxy, to the league and to the sport and that doesn’t change even though I am not playing here.”
Beckham has been capped 115 times for England, scoring 17 goals while captaining the side on more than 50 occasions.
He captured a half dozen Premier League titles during a sensational 12-year career at Manchester United that also saw him win the FA Cup twice and the 1999 Champions League title.
In July 2003, Beckham signed with Real Madrid, helping them to the 2006-07 La Liga title. He joined the Galaxy the next year, debuting in a friendly against Chelsea at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham helped grow the sport in the United States, but his time in southern California has not been without controversy.
He has faced criticism for missing games and has had run-ins with fans, especially when he first arrived. His loans to European teams, which caused him to miss parts of MLS seasons, angered some Los Angeles fans who displayed their dislike with signs at games that said “Go home fraud,” and “Part time player.”
The Galaxy also made several mistakes in their handling of Beckham, including giving the appearance that they were treating him as just any other player despite paying him more money for one practice than several of his teammates made in a full season.
Both teams in the this year MLS final have the same owner, The Anschutz Entertainment Group. AEG at one time owned six teams in the league.
AEG’s deep pockets allowed the Galaxy to stack their roster with star players other teams couldn’t afford, like Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Beckham and Keane each earn more in salary per season than Houston’s entire roster.
Beckham said the league is maturing and that the future is going to be a bright one.
“I hope I brought a bit of interest to the game,” he said. “If that is the single thing I have done then great. The foundations are there. It is a 17-year-old league and it will continue to grow.”