The most recognizable athlete in the world Beckham has agreed to a five-year deal to play for the Galaxy whose season opens April 8 in Houston. The deal to bring Beckham to America is thought to be the biggest in sporting history with industry experts estimating the combined value of the player contract with commercial opportunities in the United States to be in excess of $250 million.
Beckham is celebrated around the world for his match winning skills as a player in addition to his overall contributions to clubs Real Madrid Manchester United and England.
"This week Real Madrid asked me to make a decision regarding my future and the offer to extend my contract by a further two seasons said David Beckham. "After discussing several options with my family and advisers to either stay here at Madrid or join other major British and European clubs I have decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the MLS beginning this summer.
"I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world’s most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own.
"For the rest of this season I will continue to give 100% to my coach team mates and fans as I believe Fabio Capello will bring this club and its supporters the success they truly deserve."
Having been Captain of the English soccer team and the driving force behind two of the world’s best and most popular soccer clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid Beckham’s latest chapter of his superstar career will see him joining one of MLS’s most successful franchises.
"David Beckham will have a greater impact on soccer in America than any athlete has ever had on a sport globally said Timothy J. Leiweke president & CEO AEG. "We are acquiring an individual that will not only be the best ambassador and the best role model for athletes and fans of soccer but the best example of what any athlete can and should be. David is truly the only individual that can build the ‘bridge’ between soccer in America and the rest of the world added Leiweke.
"In addition to David’s tremendous desire to further elevate the sport of soccer in the United States and worldwide we would also not be here today without the unbelievable cooperation of the members of his management team beginning with Simon Fuller Leiweke continued. "We owe you all a debt of gratitude and appreciation and give you our commitment that we will support you as you support us every step of the way."
"This historic partnership with 19 Entertainment and CAA Sports will also create tremendous and exciting new opportunities for us to collectively develop additional worldwide initiatives Leiweke continued. "The synergies created with 19 Entertainment the worldwide leaders in branding and imaging along with CAA Sports the premier sports representation agency will result in numerous new and profitable ventures."
With this historic signing Beckham becomes the first MLS player acquired via the League’s new Designated Player Rule which allows the signing of players whose salary falls outside the team salary budget. Although financial details of Beckham’s contract will not be revealed his earnings are likely to run into hundreds of millions of dollars over the five year period when all incomes are collated.
"David Beckham is a global sports icon who will transcend the sport of soccer in America said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "His decision to continue his storied career in Major League Soccer is testament to the fact that America is rapidly becoming a true ‘Soccer Nation’ with Major League Soccer at the core. In the last few years MLS has added three new teams six new owners four new soccer specific stadiums and signed four long term television agreements. The addition of David Beckham represents another significant step forward for the MLS and the sport."
"As importantly David’s enormous success as a player and team leader will serve as an inspiration to millions of soccer players and fans in this country and his global popularity will help take MLS and the sport of soccer in this country to an unprecedented level of excitement and popularity here and abroad."
The unprecedented agreement was negotiated by representatives of Beckham’s international personal management agency 19 Entertainment and CAA Sports.
"David Beckham is an extraordinary sporting icon said 19 Entertainment’s Simon Fuller. "His achievements to date as a player would satisfy even the most ambitious athlete. However David’s decision to move to the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the MLS is the beginning of probably his greatest and most important adventure of all."
Fuller continued "David’s passion for soccer means that there could be no greater ambassador for the world’s most popular sport and this will undoubtedly help its continued growth in the world’s biggest sporting nation. I am proud to have played a part in this unprecedented and highly innovative deal which takes David to the United States. With our friends and partners at AEG I look forward to an exciting and memorable five years ahead."
Beckham’s move to play in North America is expected to introduce millions of new fans to the game. His appeal in Europe ranges from die-hard club fans who respect his work ethic and his ability to win a game single-handedly to casual and new fans of the sport who are drawn to him by his refusal to conform to the stereotypical expectations of what a soccer player should be.
Respected UK sports magazine Four Four Two (February 2007) describes Beckham as "blessed with a special talent a right foot that could open Fort Knox and more importantly than anything else a phenomenal work ethic…when he broke a bone in his foot prior to the World Cup England ground to a halt. Tabloids beseeched their tens of millions of readers to kiss pictures of the troubled toe and pray for its swift healing."
Beckham has won six Premiership medals two FA Cups one Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup (now known as FIFA Club World Championship) the most important club prize in the world soccer calendar. Additionally he has been made an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen voted the BBC’s "Sports Personality of the Year and has played for England more than 90 times.