Jan 31, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT
(Updated: 1:02 p.m. ET)
David Beckham, global soccer’s most iconic star of the last 20 years, will now wear the jersey of Paris Saint-Germain.
Beckham, 37, and the well-financed Parisian club held an introductory news conference late Thursday afternoon in France to formally announce the former England captain’s arrival at Parc des Princes. There, Beckham will seek to win a major title in a fourth different country.
The former LA Galaxy midfielder certainly has a chance at PSG to add another trophy or two to his personal collection; the club is neck-and-neck with Lyon for top spot in Ligue 1, France’s top division.
More importantly, this gets Beckham back onto the brightly lit UEFA Champions League stage. PSG is two weeks away from facing Spain’s Valencia in the first of a Champions League Round of 16 home-and-away clash.
Beckham has been looking for a new home since late November when, when he announced that his six-year relationship with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy would terminate. Speculation in subsequent weeks had his final playing stop happening everywhere from Australia to China to clubs around the London neighborhood where Beckham grew up.
At Thursday’s introductory news conference, where Beckham revealed that his French language skills are fairly limited, the former Manchester United star said he would donate his salary to salary to a local Paris children’s charity.
“I chose Paris because I can see what the club are trying to do,” Beckham said. “I can see who the club are trying to bring in. It’s an exciting city and now there’s a club that’s going to have a lot of success over the next 10, 20, 30 years. I’m very honored I’ve been picked to be part of the future of PSG.”
On the one hand, PSG always seemed in play as a potential destination; the once-famous club, recently reinforced through the heavy financing of new Qatari ownership, had offered Beckham a fat contract one year ago. Beckham seriously mulled the deal then but ultimately chose a return to the LA Galaxy for one more MLS campaign. The Galaxy won its second consecutive MLS Cup title on Dec. 1.
But right before MLS Cup late last Novemeber, PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti had pooh-poohed any guesswork that Beckham would land at Parc des Princes.
“We did not offer, good luck to him,” Ancelotti said flatly at the time, seeming to kick a bunch of dirt on this thing and bury it once and for all.
Beckham will certainly have a bunch of pricey talent around him at Parcs des Princes in southwest Paris. (The club may represent one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but the ground itself, ironically, is in a fairly pedestrian, bordering on “gritty,” area of Paris.)
PSG’s current roster includes one-of-a-kind striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Argentina’s Javier Pastore, Brazil’s Thiago Silva and several other well-known international names. So, unlike in Los Angeles, Beckham won’t be the star of the show. (Especially not with Ibrahimovic around, as this piece from England’s respected Guardian details.)
All totaled, PSG has spent more than $300 million over the last 18 months to fortify the club’s roster and make it a player again in French and European competition.
Beckham, who says he will continue to be an ambassador for American soccer, declined to say whether this would be the last playing stop on a professional career that began 20 years ago.
“People always speculate that it’ll be my last [playing contract] but they’ve done that for a number of years and I continue to play and sign new contracts,” he said.
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