Beckham 'flattered' by post-MLS options
CARSON, California (Reuters) - David Beckham is flattered by the "interesting and exciting options" facing him as he prepares to farewell L.A. Galaxy and Major League Soccer, the former England captain said on Thursday.
Beckham, who helped raise the game's profile in North America since joining the Galaxy in 2007, will play his final match for the club in Saturday's MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo, but has no intention of retiring just yet.
"I've got some interesting and exciting options on the table," Beckham told a news conference. "I am very flattered by some of the options that I've got.
"I still feel I can play and I'm not considering retiring."
The 37-year-old former Manchester United midfielder has been linked with a number of clubs internationally, with French team Monaco the latest.
"I heard about Monaco on the way to training this morning from a friend in London who said 'I hear you are going to Monaco.' That was the first I'd heard of that," laughed Beckham.
But Beckham dismissed speculation linking him with the recently reformed New York Cosmos club which will play in the U.S. second tier next season.
"I've been hearing the Cosmos thing for the last two or three years. It's not true. My manager has definitely not had conversations with them, that's definitely not true," he said.
Beckham did say, however, that he has received some serious approaches and singled out three managers, who have talked positively of him recently, for particular thanks.
"I've still got managers like (Paris St. Germain coach) Carlo Ancelotti and (Queens Park Rangers manager) Harry Redknapp and (West Ham United manager) Sam Allardyce ... coming out that are saying they'd love me to play and they know how professional I am, it means a lot to me," said Beckham.
"It is what I have tried to base my career around, over the years, being professional and working hard, so it's nice to be recognised like that."
END OF ERA
Beckham, who moved to the U.S. after winning the Spanish league title with Real Madrid, also spoke positively of his six years in MLS, each spent with the Galaxy, but despite the 'end of an era' mood he dismissed the thought of now being an opportune moment to retire from the game.
"I do believe I still have got another challenge inside, that I can still play for, I don't know how many years left. I do still feel I can play," he said.
Beckham will end his playing time at L.A., where he has also been linked with a possible off-the-field role, with plaudits from MLS officials and fans.
But he acknowledged that his six seasons with the Galaxy had included some rough times, particularly in 2009, when local fans reacted with anger to his decision to go to Italian club AC Milan on loan during the first half of the MLS season.
"Go Home Fraud" read one bluntly worded banner draped over a section of the Galaxy's Home Depot Center at the time.
"I've never been booed by my own fans with other clubs, but I've had that at certain points here, and I overcame that," he said.
"It's never a happy moment to be booed by your own fans and seeing some of the banners that were out there.
"At the end of the day, I was happy that I turned it around, and I think now the majority of fans are on my side."
Winning the title last year certainly repaired that relationship and he is certain to be given an emotional send off by the Galaxy fans on Saturday.
But Beckham's role in MLS however has always been as much, if not more, about promoting the league to a traditionally soccer-sceptical public, and he believes the status of MLS has risen during his time in the States.
"The interest now, when this league is talked about in Europe, people are starting to take it very seriously and that is an amazing thing to see," he said.
Beckham has a contractual option to take an ownership role in a future expansion franchise and there has been talk of a possible ownership role at the Galaxy in the future.
But regardless of what his precise role will be, Beckham says that he will remain involved in supporting the growth of MLS.
"Just because I'm not playing here anymore after the weekend, my commitment stays the same and I will do anything to keep these players coming over like Robbie Keane, like Thierry Henry," he said.
"Anything I can do on that side of things, I want to do. I want to see this league continue to grow."
(Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury)
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