Becks still has the skills

RYAN MURPHY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET

After a long wait -- and plenty of buildup and hype -- David Beckham has finally arrived in North America and made his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

Hampered by an ankle injury, Beckham played the final 12 minutes of a friendly against English club Chelsea on July 21.

He had a few touches of the ball, and was allowed to take a corner kick near the end of the game -- a duty usually undertaken by Galaxy player Landon Donovan.

"I was happy because I didn't have many touches on the ball," Beckham said of the kick as he addressed media after the game.

This is sure to change, although he has said in an interview for USA Today that fans should not expect him to be "a player like Pele, who would run past five players and score five goals. My qualities are the assists and working hard and the free kicks."

Most soccer fans are probably familiar with his extensive resume on the pitch.

He made his professional debut back in 1995 for English juggernaut Manchester United, in a game against Leeds United.

In 1996 the soccer world discovered the talent possessed by the young man from Leytonstone, as he scored a goal from midfield in a game against Wimbledon.

His finest moments came in 1999, as United went on to win its famous "treble," taking the FA Cup, English Premier League title and, the Champions League with a thrilling come-from-behind win over Bayern Munich.

His right foot and curving free kicks have garnered him much attention, with a specific highlight being the magnificent free kick goal he scored for the English national squad in a World Cup qualifier against Greece in 2001. The goal came in the dying seconds of injury time as England trailed 2-1 to the Greeks. Beckham's goal secured a tie and put the English through to the World Cup finals in Japan/Korea.

He was named England's captain June 30, 1998, less than two years after making his international debut in a match against Moldova.

Of course, his career has had its ups and downs.

In the 1998 World Cup, for instance, Beckham was handed a red card and ejected from a second round game against Argentina. He was largely blamed for England being eliminated from the tournament.

The event was documented in a timeline of his career in the Manchester Evening News, "Vilified on his return, Becks faces a barrage of abuse, with some fans even hanging an effigy of him outside a London pub."

Another down came in 2002, when he had a falling out with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. In 2003, after a loss to Arsenal, Ferguson kicked a soccer shoe which hit Beckham in the face and cut him severely near his eye, requiring stitches.

By July of that year Beckham was out of Manchester and on his way to Madrid, to play with a squad packed with superstars: the "Galacticos" at Real Madrid. The squad included Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Raul and Zinedine Zidane.

But, despite the talent there, Beckham only earned one title at Real Madrid, and that was this past season's La Liga championship. Of the original "Galacticos," only Raul remained as a teammate.

Beckham resigned as England captain on July 2, 2006 and was demoted from the first squad of the national team on Aug. 11 of that year. However, he trained and earned his way back into the first squad for a friendly against Brazil on June 1, 2007, and marked the day with an assist on England's one goal in the 1-1 draw.

He signed with the Galaxy in January, causing Madrid coach Fabio Capello to bench him. However, like his spot on the England squad, Beckham battled back and ended the season strongly. He won his one and only trophy at Madrid in June of this year, defeating Mallorca to capture the La Liga title.

The 2006-07 season was however, a major low in his career, as he told the BBC,

"It was the most difficult time of my career, not being involved in training and matches."

Now with Beckham playing in Tinseltown, Toronto fans may get the chance to see him in action. Despite missing the Galaxy's last three SuperLiga games with an ankle problem, Beckham will travel to Toronto. But, the jury is out on whether or not fans will actually see Becks play on BMO's FieldTurf.

Paul Beirne, director of business operations for Toronto FC, says that ticket holders for the Galaxy game have had their passes for quite some time and that they aren't there to see Beckham the superstar.

"(The) ticket holders are people out to see Toronto FC take on the L.A. Galaxy, who just happen to have this outstanding player in David Beckham," Beirne says.

"The support for Toronto FC has been overwhelming," he says, adding that the atmosphere at games came as a surprise to the club.

As for how they will treat the dashing soccer star from Leytonstone, London, Beirne says, "I think we have a very educated soccer market here, and that they will have an enormous amount of respect."


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