Beckham hopes son could play on team

LONDON — David Beckham is finalizing plans to start a Major League Soccer franchise, and he’s hoping son Brooklyn could one day take the field for the team.

While wary about putting pressure on his children to follow in his famous footsteps, the former England captain tells The Associated Press he hopes Brooklyn could be good enough to play on his team one day.

Five months after retiring from soccer, Beckham is putting the finishing touches to investment plans before asking the MLS to allow him to start up an expansion franchise in Miami.

Already, 14-year-old son Brooklyn has shown he could be the next Beckham to make it as a professional player. There have been spells with Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers after playing for a Los Angeles Galaxy youth team during his father’s time in the MLS.

Asked if he would like to see Brooklyn in his MLS team, Beckham told the AP in an interview Wednesday: “Yes, hopefully, hopefully.”

Beckham has two other sons — 11-year-old Romeo and 8-year-old Cruz — who could of course make the grade.

“As long as the boys are happy, as long as they enjoy playing football and they have fun doing it then, whether they play at professional level or whether they play at Sunday league level, I don’t care,” Beckham said.

What troubles Beckham is that his sons are unable to develop as soccer players away from the spotlight — if that’s the career they wish to pursue — with Brooklyn’s training spells with English teams quickly becoming public.

“Obviously, any time the boys go and train at a club, there’s a certain amount of pressure on them because it’s highlighted and that’s a shame at times,” Beckham said. “But they are levelheaded children, they are fun, they love playing the game. So we will see.”

The more immediate concern for Beckham is convincing the MLS to allow him to exercise his right to launch an MLS expansion team. The option of becoming a team owner was included in the MLS contract Beckham signed when joining the Galaxy in 2007.

“I am excited about owning a team ... continuing to be part of the MLS in the future,” said Beckham, who has yet to confirm the franchise’s host city. “Miami excites me because I think it’s a city that is very excitable.

“I’ve been to watch the basketball there. I’ve seen the (NFL’s Miami) Dolphins play. It’s a city where the people in the city love their sport.”

And during five years in the U.S., where he won two MLS titles, Beckham believes he created “an atmosphere in the United States where football now is a sport which is taken very seriously.”

However adored he was as a player by the end of his career, being a team owner is likely to be a tougher proposition, with fans and shareholders alike to please.

“When you are a manager, when you are an owner, when you are a captain I think there’s always going to be certain people that don’t agree with some of the things that you do,” Beckham said. “But you are there to create something that is going to be successful, not just a year or two, it’s for the next 20, 30, 40 years. So that’s what I’m hopefully going to create.”

And, as a player who made a record 115 outfield appearances for England, and won trophies with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and the Galaxy, Beckham won’t settle for second best.

“I’ve been obviously successful in my footballing career ... so being an owner of a team, I want to be as successful as that,” Beckham said.

There’s little prospect of seeing the 38-year-old Beckham pulling on his boots in the near future. On a visit to China next month he had been expected to play in an all-star game, but that is no longer the case as Beckham settles in well into his life as a former professional.

There are no pangs of regret that he retired in May after four months with PSG. Not even when he watches former teammates across the world still in action.

“I enjoy watching football a lot more now than I did when I was playing,” Beckham said after the launch of a book about his career. “It was hard for me to watch games when I was still playing.”

Not playing hasn’t kept Beckham out the public consciousness — particularly last week when former United manager Alex Ferguson used a new autobiography to criticize the star’s apparent preoccupation with fame and to claim he “surrendered” part of his career by moving to the MLS.

Beckham’s new book, which mostly features pictures of his trophy-laden playing career, speaks warmly about the manager who developed him into a global sporting icon.

Even a decade after Beckham’s United career ended after Ferguson kicked a boot at his face, he is affectionate and diplomatic toward the 71-year-old Scot who he still calls the “boss.”

“I am not upset at all about anything,” Beckham said. “I am excited about my book coming out. Obviously, I wish the boss all the success with his book. He’s had an amazing career, one that many managers look at and want to achieve what he has achieved.

“I owe him a lot as a manager for the way he brought me into Manchester United and he then groomed me into a player who went on to win 19 trophies, to play for my country 115 times, to represent my country as a captain, to play for Real Madrid, to play for AC Milan, to play for PSG, to play for Galaxy.”

Only now he’s retired can Beckham truly savor his career and remind people such as Ferguson — however tactfully — about such rare global successes for an English player.

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