I love David Beckham. Always have and always will. I’ve always thought that he was an extraordinary footballer.
Even though I support Arsenal, at the height of the Arsenal and Manchester United rivalry, I had a soft spot for Beckham. If he scored and we won, I was fine with that. I wore the number 7 shirt because he did. I started taking free kicks because he did. I even copied his run up. I learnt his ‘run to the corner flag, jump, spread arms’ celebration that he did when he scored against Greece. He was my idol, and he will be a success in Paris.
I believe, to this very day, that David Beckham never got the credit he deserved as a footballer. For one reason or another, 'Brand Beckham' and all its grandeur has overshadowed the quality that the player possessed. And he had buckets of talent. He still has, in my opinion. The fact that in the famous Manchester United treble winning midfield, he was the weakest link isn’t a slight on his ability, it’s a testament to the quality of that midfield.
The fact that Real Madrid signed him should speak volumes. Yes, there was an undeniable marketing element behind it. But for that Real Madrid team, he was an integral figure. While he was nicknamed Forest Gump by some sections of the Spanish media, the truth was that that Madrid team needed more Forest Gump's.
When they won the league in his final season there, Beckham was a pivotal player in their amazing end of season turnaround. He, Guti and a few others practically dragged Madrid kicking and screaming to that title.
Yes, there is a commercial element to this deal. The Beckham brand gives Paris Saint-Germain’s ambitious project a large degree of legitimacy. Question his talent all you want, but signing Beckham makes you sit up and take notice. Also, the donating of Beckham’s wages is a wonderful gesture. Frankly, I don’t see how anybody can have any misgivings about this and declare it a way to avoid paying tax. Either the government gets his money or disadvantaged children, and Beckham has decided to help the kids. Whether it’s about the Brand Beckham or not (which I don’t believe it is), it’s still a magnificent gesture.
The PSG fans have welcomed him with open arms, giving him a standing ovation as he was sent on to the field during the 2-0 win against Marseille last Sunday. He looked almost embarrassed by the situation, a sign of his humble nature despite the superstar tag that follows.
The football has started for Beckham, and Beckham has started well, which will the real measure of his stay in France. And in a league that is as tight as Ligue 1 is at the moment, being able to draw on a player as talented and experienced as Beckham can give PSG a huge advantage.
Regardless of what people’s view on him is, he has won it all domestically. Young players like Lucas Moura and older players such as Javier Pastore who don’t have the experience of the pressure that comes with a title run in can look towards David Beckham as a reference point.
There is surely no doubt that Beckham’s stay in France will be a success.
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