December 1, 2012
ENDING IT LIKE BECKHAM
Becks repeats history, wins title in his final game with the Galaxy
By Michael Lewis
|David Beckham leaves Major League Soccer with his second straight championship.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham has proven to be more than just another pretty face or someone who can make millions of dollars by selling his No. 23 soccer jersey.
He also is a collector, a collector of soccer championships.
Across the pond, the 37-year-old former English international played for title teams with Manchester United in England and Real Madrid in Spain. He celebrated six English Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League with United and one La Liga crown with Real.
In the United States, he has earned two MLS Cup championship over the past two years with the LA Galaxy, the most recent after a 3-1 win over the Houston Galaxy at The Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Not only does Beckham win titles, but a number of them have come in his final game with his club teams -- United, Real and now LA.
"Winning a championship with my last game with Manchester United, winning a championship in my last game with Real Madrid, even though I was only on the field for 68 minutes, then winning a championship here in my last game, it never gets old," Beckham said. "I spoke about it in the lead up to this game. The feeling of making a final, the preparation, the feeling around the club, it never gets old. I'm 37 and I've been able to play in quite finals and championship games. I still love it like I did my first."
For the record, Beckham's first professional title was the 1993 FA Community Shield in his native England.
Almost two decades later, Beckham had yet another one to add to his personal collection -- his second in a row with the Galaxy. The two seasons could not have been more different. The Galaxy led the league from start to finish in 2011. This year, LA struggled early on before picking up steam during the summer to secure a wildcard playoff berth.
"I think we made it easy last year because we were so exceptional the whole year," Beckham said. "This year was obviously different. We made it hard for ourselves. We didn't start well. But good teams and good character in good teams come good at the right times. We showed that this year. Being successful doesn't come easy. You have to work at it. I tell my children every single day, 'If you want to be successful, it's hard work. It doesn't come easy.' I think we proved it this year."
Beckham was signed by MLS and the Galaxy in 2007 to raise the public's awareness of the sport and the league. He did not boast about whether he accomplished that. Rather, he hoped he did.
"I just hope I brought more interest to the game because I think that was why I decided to come here," he said. "I kind of raised a little bit of interest. I hope that's what I done. If that's the single thing that I've done, then great. But I think the foundations are there now in this year. It's a 17-year-old league. And the foundations are great. It will continue to grow."
Beckham did not score, but he had his moment five minutes into stoppage time when he was replaced by Marcelo Sarvas. Not surprisingly, the HDC crowd gave Sir David Beckham a standing ovation in his final moments.
"I think today was always going to be an emotional day," he said. "For myself, win or lose, it was going be emotional. I've been here for six years, been part of this team, being part of the team that has kept the majority of our players over the last six years. It was always going to be an emotional day. Yeah, coming off, was tough."
As he walked off the field after receiving his winner's medal, Beckham wore the red, white and blue flag of the United States and the similar color of the Union Jack. He celebrated with three of his sons.
Beckham said that his feelings for the United States "couldn't be any warmer. On my boots is where I have the English flag and the U.S. flag. I was lucky that somebody handed me a Union Jack today and somebody handed me the Stars and Stripes. It's meant a lot to me the way people have treated me since I moved here, not just the Galaxy and in soccer, but outside the game as well.
"People have been incredibly kind to myself and to my family in welcoming us. I might be English, I'm very proud to have been proud of this amazing country and to continue to be a part of this amazing country. I am committed to this game in this country. I just want to thank everyone in the U.S. and around the game for their support that I've had over the years."