Beckham's Big Move
Soccer star signs with L.A. team
|David Beckham balances a ball during a squad training session for the World Cup on June 28, 2006. (Photo: Matt Dunham/AP Images)|
January 18, 2007
After a storied 15-year career in Europe, soccer superstar David Beckham will soon be getting his kicks in America. Last week, the 31-year-old midfielder inked a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The five-year contract, which includes commercial endorsements, is worth $250 million.
Beckham hopes his signing will attract young American fans to soccer.
"There are so many great sports in America," he said. "There are so many kids that play baseball, American football, basketball. But soccer is huge all around the world apart from America, so that's where I want to make a difference with kids."
Even before last week's signing, Beckham had already established ties with the Galaxy. In 2005, he opened a soccer academy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, which just happens to be the Galaxy's stadium.
An Impressive Career
Beckham will suit up for the Galaxy on July 1, one day after his contract with Spain's Real (pronounced Re-Al) Madrid expires. Since Italian coach Fabio Capello took over the reins of the Real team last July, Beckham has seen limited action in the starting lineup. His frustration over his lack of playing time factored into his decision to bid farewell to his Real teammates.
Before signing with Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham played for the famed Manchester United Team in England. He made his debut with the squad in 1992 at the age of 17. Beckham's impressive play was critical to Manchester United's outstanding accomplishments during the 1990s and early 2000s.
A New Start
Today, Beckham's dominance on the soccer field is no longer what it used to be. As England's captain at last year's World Cup, he turned in a disappointing performance. His team made an early exit from the tournament when they fell to Portugal in the quarterfinals.
Despite recent setbacks, Beckham remains one of the world's top players, and his signature free kicks and crosses still make him a feared opponent.
Major League Soccer (MLS) officials hope that Beckham's arrival in the U.S. will breathe new life into the sport.
"The real growth of other professional sports leagues came with the rise of its stars," says Derek Aframe, a former vice president of the MLS's New England Revolution. "Who do kids playing those sports dream of being? In basketball, it was Michael Jordan and now LeBron James. Soccer has never had that. Now, kids will have Beckham."
Beckham appears to have won over a whole new set of fans overnight. The Galaxy sold more than 1,000 season tickets after news of his deal broke.
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Beckham's Big Move
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Karen Fanning is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.