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Mar 26, 2013

Beckham hails China tour as 'big success'

David Beckham has hailed his recent five-day trip to China as "a big success" - but World Cup-winner Bixente Lizarazu said it showed his impact at Paris Saint-Germain would largely be off the pitch.

Beckham, 37, returned to training with the Ligue 1 leaders on Monday afternoon, hours after jetting back into the French capital.

The trip to China was his first as a newly-appointed ambassador for football in the country and he was greeted enthusiastically in Beijing, Qingdao and Wuhan, the three cities he visited.

Beckham told PSG's official website: "The trip was a big success. The welcome I received everywhere, when I arrived at the hotel or at the airport, was simply incredible."

The former England midfielder met dignitaries and fans plucked from social networks, and he said he felt the trip showed PSG already have a healthy fanbase in China.

"I think the club has a special relationship with the Chinese people and fans," he explained. "In each city I visited, in each school, a lot of children had PSG shirts on and that says a lot.

"Paris is an exceptional club, which has great ambitions for the future. It's an honour for me to play at such a club with such great players.

"I'll be able to say at the end of my career that I played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy and PSG, and I'm proud of that."

But with Friday's league meeting with Montpellier and next week's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona looming, Lizarazu told L'Equipe the Chinese trip revealed PSG's motivation for signing Beckham on a short-term deal.

"I don't like people mucking about," he said. "Sport at the highest level isn't a circus. I don't want to judge Beckham as a man, but the fact has to be accepted that they signed him 80% because of marketing.

"It has to be stopped. Barca are coming soon. If he's considered a major part of the squad, you can't let him leave for five days and go round three cities, particularly at 37.

"When he arrived, he wasn't in shape and couldn't play. It's not possible to go off so far and be in the best possible condition. It's not as if he had nothing to do either. All those events, it saps your energy."

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