US soccer's star to dim after Beckham leaves the Galaxy
By Greg Heakes ,AFP Wednesday, November 21, 2012, 12:03 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- Soccer legend David Beckham says he will play his final game with the Los Angeles Galaxy when the Major League Soccer club hosts Houston in the league championship early next month.
The 37-year-old former England captain and veteran of three World Cups did not mention anything about retiring from the sport.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy. However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career," Beckham said in a news release on Monday.
Beckham has scheduled a news conference in Los Angeles for Tuesday.
The soccer superstar has spent the past six seasons with the Galaxy, leading Los Angeles to an MLS Cup title last season when they defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0.
Beckham and the Galaxy go for their second consecutive crown when they face the Dynamo in a repeat of last year's final on Dec. 1 at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham said in a statement released by the team that the game would be his last for the Galaxy, as he hopes to move on and eventually become a part-owner of an MLS team in the future.
"I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future," he said.
Beckham did not go into specifics about what he meant by "one last challenge" or what he plans to do next.
There were reports out of Australia last week that their professional league is trying to woo him to make a move Down Under. There has also been strong interest from European clubs.
"In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year," Beckham said.
"I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in LA and across the states. Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country, and I want to always be part of growing it."
This is Beckham's "final competitive game with the Galaxy," said Galaxy spokesman Justin Pearson on Monday.
Pearson said he didn't know what Beckham would say on Tuesday.
"He said what he said," Pearson replied. "It will be discussed tomorrow. Whether or not answers are there is unknown."
Beckham has appeared in 115 contests 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 UEFA 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.
"Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport," said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group. "David not only took our franchise to another level, but he took our sport to another level It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours."
Beckham helped grow the sport in the United States, but his time in southern California has not been without controversy.
He has had run-ins with fans before. 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."
Beckham's name also caused a stir earlier this month in New Zealand where Prime Minister John Key reportedly joked that Beckham was as "thick as bat (expletive)."
The New Zealand Herald reported that Key made the comments to a group of students at the St Hilda's Collegiate at the South Island town of Dunedin.
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