DRESSED in a sharp grey suit, blond hair neatly side-parted and wooing a crowd of French reporters with his boyish charm, David Beckham began the latest, and possibly final, chapter of an extraordinary boys’ own football tale yesterday.
Given the clamour surrounding his five-month deal with Paris St Germain, the marketing gurus are rubbing their hands at the thought of Beckham sprinkling his magic dust on the
ambitious club’s global profile.
Whether or not his brief tango in the City of Light has much impact on the club’s performance on the field of play is another matter, as they are doing rather well already.
One thing, however, is for sure. The 37-year-old, despite the glitz and glamour, the Hollywood friends and an annual turnover the size of a small country, will be desperate to prove he still has something to offer the game that made him a sporting icon. “Wherever I’ve played, whatever team I’ve played for, I’m always 150 per cent committed,” said Beckham, who has announced his salary would be paid to a children’s charity in the French capital.
“I don’t know if this will be my last contract. People have been speculating about that for a number of years, but I continue to play and sign contracts. I will see how I feel but I want to play as long as possible. My passion is football. It always has been.”
Some may see PSG’s signing of the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder as little more than a gimmick, but Beckham’s fanatical devotion to the game means PSG fans can look forward to some illuminating cameo performances.
The week-in week-out hurly burly of league football might be too much for Beckham’s ageing legs, but as an impact substitute, manager Carlo Ancelotti may have a useful weapon in his armoury. “I can run around,” Beckham said. “I’ve not lost any of my pace because, to be honest, I’ve not had a lot of pace during my career. For me, Carlo Ancelotti is one of the best managers I have played for. It’s exciting on a number of levels.”
Whatever Beckham’s impact on the pitch, his presence around the training ground will do PSG no harm as they try to win the French title and progress in the Champions League in which they face Valencia in the last 16.
Having not played a match since signing off with LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup final in November, Beckham trained with
Arsenal this week to regain his fitness and received glowing praise from Arsene Wenger. “This guy has fantastic quality and has done the maximum in his career. Why? Because he loves football. After training he stays and plays,” Wenger said.