David Beckham happy with MLS growth

Updated: January 20, 2012, 12:46 PM ET
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- David Beckham's second L.A. unveiling might have lacked the spectacle of his celebrity-filled introduction four and a half years earlier, but the emotion was much the same.

The English superstar, who on Wednesday signed a new two-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, was presented to a room full of media Thursday afternoon at Home Depot Center, and he said he was happy to be back.

"One of the major reasons why I wanted to continue in L.A. is that my family are happy here," Beckham said. "We're happy living here. We're happy living in America. But the reason I came to L.A. is to play soccer. The reason I came here was to win a trophy. I hadn't done that in four years, and last season I did it.

"I'm committed to the Galaxy. I'm excited about this beginning again. We've got a very special team, special players, a great staff, great owners who look after us and make our lives very special to be part of this team, this franchise.

"I've never come back after a season with the Galaxy and been a champion. I wanted to have that feeling. And we are [champions]. But we're not finished. I'm not happy with one championship. I want more."

Neil Olshey I've never come back after a season with the Galaxy and been a champion. I wanted to have that feeling. And we are [champions]. But we're not finished. I'm not happy with one championship. I want more.

-- David Beckham, Galaxy

Beckham -- whose first five years in Major League Soccer were marked by dramatic growth for the sport in the United States, his growing global appreciation for America's league, record merchandise sales and, finally, an MLS Cup -- decided to return to the Galaxy rather than accept a lucrative offer from Paris Saint-Germain or sign with clubs in England, Italy, Brazil and the Middle East.

He said he needed time to rest after the season before deciding his future, and that he made up his mind after a New Year's Eve conversation with his wife, Victoria.

"The only thing that made me think about something else," Beckham said, "was it was the end of a five-year spell and we win a championship? When it ends the way it did, maybe it's in the stars that it's time to stop playing, time to step away. That all went into my head.

"At this moment in my life, my family and my children are the most important thing to me. My children love living here, and at the end of the day to be 36 years old and to have the offers I was having thrown at me, you have to look at all the options.

"I've been a Galaxy player for five years. I've enjoyed being a Galaxy player for five years, especially the last three years to be coached by Bruce [Arena], and I'm in a team that now I'm excited about.

"The last year, last two years, I've seen the growth [of soccer in America], see the interest change, seen the excitement around the country, and I don't want to leave that yet."

Beckham, who will be 37 in May, was a driving force in the Galaxy's run to a second straight Supporters' Shield, awarded to MLS' regular-season champion, and the club's third MLS Cup trophy, contributing 19 assists, four of them in a 4-0 playoff run.

The Galaxy also won their qualifying group in the CONCACAF Champions League and will open their season with a quarterfinal first leg March 7 at Toronto FC. A triumph in the regional club competition would send them to the FIFA Club World Cup next December.

The Galaxy, who start their preseason camp this weekend, open the MLS season March 10 against Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center.

"We're very grateful for what David has done the past five years," Tim Leiweke, president of Galaxy ownership group AEG said. "But we're even more excited about the upcoming year."

Beckham's new deal has been reported to be worth $15 million. The base numbers will be available when the MLS Players Union releases contract numbers in the spring. His previous five-year, $32.5 million contract expired on New Year's Eve. Days later, PSG officials acknowledged they had failed in their bid to sign him and that he was staying in Los Angeles for family reasons.

PSG had offered a reported 18-month, $18.7 million deal, and a source close to the situation said a Galaxy push just before Christmas, when it appeared Beckham would sign with the French giant, persuaded the superstar to stay in Southern California.

Beckham said he has no plans to retire in two years, but he accepted a two-year contract "because that's what was offered to me."

The new deal allows Beckham to join a unified Great Britain team for the 2012 London Olympics, and, according to a source, he retains his right to purchase an MLS club when his playing days are done.

Scott French covers soccer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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