Beckham Always Did Have the Touch
Whether putting the ball on the fast-moving toes of Ruud Van Nistelrooy or Ryan Giggs, or knowing where the cameras were, David Beckham usually had a sense of time and place.
Then he came to America and found a way to make money and grow old, not always gracefully but near the end with even an appealing touch of grit.
Not only that, but he got to dub the voice of the Geico Gecko in the commercials. At least, I think that’s him.
Check out this video where imagination and reality overlap:
Beckham is leaving Major League Soccer after Saturday’s championship game between the Galaxy and Houston. (ESPN Broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m.) Beckham has done his six years, longer than I thought he would last, even though he had picked a nice safe aerie above Los Angeles for his family.
But he stuck it out and last year helped win the championship, with a hamstring injury that seemed to deepen the lines in his once pretty-boy face. He was hobbled all game, so he resorted to things like tackling opponents in the open field, just like the Yanks do in their funny version of football.
He was probably worth the $32.5-million guaranteed for five years and the $4-million he endured in his sixth and final season. He earned it, by coming along at the right time in the careful maturation of M.L.S., when he could have talented teammates -- maybe not the level of his old mates at Man U or with the Galácticos of Real Madrid, but players who could do something with the ball when he directed it into their path.
The league has had plenty of aging international stars in the 17 years it has been directed first by Doug Logan and since 1999 by Don Garber -- Carlos Valderrama, Roberto Donadoni, Cuahtemoc Blanco, Youri Djorkaeff and Lothar Matthaus, just to name a few.
Most of the old guys looked as if they were here for a nice holiday with the wife or the girl friend, and frankly that’s what I thought of Beckham’s amazing summer vacation when he turned up in 2007.
Some of the old stars became disillusioned almost right away.
I remember watching Donadoni, fresh from AC Milan, coming to the hideous own-goal MetroStars in the first year of 1996. Donadoni was a modest team player, and he would receive the ball on what could have been an attack, except that he would look to the left and find not a great option and he would look to the right and find not a great option. Where were Van Basten or Gullit when he needed them?
However, M.L.S. has gotten better incrementally, in size and attendance and talent, and Beckham was able to use his aging skills. I know it wasn’t a lot of fun for Landon Donovan and other members of the Galaxy, who were caught in a huge promotion on the run. My friend Grant Wahl wrote about that in a fine book in 2009 called The Beckham Experiment. But the league and the Galaxy were able to absorb a Beckham era, and see him toss his aging body around in a title game.
Beckham is talking of some further adventure. My guess is that despite his disclaimers his ego is angling to go back for a farewell tour with Man U. How many people get a flying boot in the face from somebody named Sir Alex and yearn for a cameo return? But Beckham understands that he is part of show biz. He gave as well as he took on this gig.
12/2/2012 03:07:14 am
12/2/2012 03:23:49 am
Alan, his motives are probably even more crass than some of the others', inasmuch as his wife has her own career goals. But he is also more of a promoter than some of the other old guys, and knew enough to put himself into the footy end of the deal. Good for him. We can't underestimate how cool it is to play in NY or California and be able to live an almost normal life, by LA standards of money and security. That's the reason Klinsmann has been in California for a long time. Beckham made it work. Good for him. GV
7/24/2013 01:05:57 pm
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12/3/2012 06:54:52 am
Professional soccer has a long way to go around these eastern parts, I think. Not sure whether it has even achieved the level of attention of the days of the Cosmos and Pele. I don't follow it but I was (finally) interested enough by this post to find out if there were any professional teams representing NYC or Boston. New to me, I discovered Kraft has a team in Gillette Stadium that isn't too good and also there is a team called the Red Bulls that's maybe a little better, but not much. Lousy name in my view. Got a can as a stocking stuffer years ago. Couldn't figure out what it was and threw it away rather than take a chance it might kill me. I had a lot harder time finding out where that team plays their games. Harrison, New Jersey!? Really? Last time I was in Harrison has got to be well over fifty years ago, when cars didn't have air conditioning or catalytic converters and my parents drove us over smoggy roads with single digit names, like 1 and 9, to a brand new, but not too spiffy, kind of store called "Two Guys from Harrison" where we bought garden hoses and garbage cans for our new home. Too far for me these days.
12/4/2012 03:55:11 am
Brian: you are missing a treat. The Red Bull stadium is a nice compact place for watching a game -- all right, it's not Barca-Real, but the league gets better every year. Also, within walking distance of the stadium is the Ironbound section of Newark, home to dozens of Portuguese restaurants and other ethnic places. Easy to reach by train. Put it on your calendar for next season. GV
12/4/2012 05:14:12 am
Convincing argument, you win. (Walking distance!) "Football" and Fornos sounds good.
12/4/2012 06:17:49 am
12/5/2012 05:04:30 am
12/5/2012 05:51:53 am
Alan, the Italian toast is Cent'Anni -- a hundred years. I just ticked off on my fingers that it would be seven more World Cups. At the rate our lads are developing, or not developing, I'm thinking cent'anni might not be enough
12/5/2012 07:21:51 am
12/5/2012 02:01:26 pm
Thanks, Alan. I don't know if that particular "Jewish expression" is a blessing or a curse! I remember Will Durant was interviewed at age 95 and asked whether he thought he would live to be 100. His reply was, "I hope not. Do you know what it's like being trapped inside a 95 year old body?"
12/6/2012 12:13:45 am
Plus, according to the NYT today, the MLS has its eye on Queens for 2016. (at a loss of parkland,it sounds to me)
12/6/2012 06:40:53 am
12/6/2012 06:12:12 am
12/6/2012 08:53:04 am
That is a thought -- when it warms up next spring.
12/9/2012 12:13:28 pm
I'm in, so long as wives are included (mine's a nurse, and I might well need her).
4/29/2013 06:24:46 am
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6/27/2013 10:08:09 pm
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12/12/2012 02:42:55 pm
Certainly you enjoy the game so i suggest that you will appreciate the atmosphere and product and facility the Red Bulls stadium offers, despite incompetent ownership that keeps hiring non-American management who have no clue about the market, MSL and US.
3/26/2013 01:34:48 am
He is very good at this. I'd like to see other videos with him. It's a pity he's getting old, but I hope that other talents will follow.
6/30/2013 05:54:13 pm
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3/26/2013 01:39:36 am
I am very curious who the next Beckham will be cuz I am sure that someone will follow him, the good (and sexy) football player's era won't end with Beckham.
6/28/2013 03:55:37 am
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6/25/2013 04:02:46 pm
He will always be my idol ever since and that's the reason why I still keep on remembering on what he's done for all of us.
7/2/2013 05:36:11 am
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6/26/2013 10:32:26 pm
I am a great fan of David Beckham and I do believe him as one of the greatest players ever played the game. He was an expert in taking free-kicks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on him and keep posting more updates in your blog.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.