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By ESPN Staff

Beckham to return to Old Trafford - for charity

Manchester United chief executive David Gill is delighted to have the chance to welcome David Beckham back to Old Trafford.

Beckham is the first big name to be confirmed in a European Select XI that will play United on March 13 next year as play of a joint UEFA/EU-sanctioned charity game.

The match will commemorate not only the 50th anniversary of the Busby Babes' entry into European competition, but also the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, signalling a united Europe.

Italy's World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi will take charge of the European team, which will comprise of the best European-born players from all the major clubs in the continent.

Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard and Lyon's Gerard Houllier have already offered their support, while Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have been sent letters outlining the project in the hope Chelsea and Arsenal will make some of their big names made available.

But, no matter what the eventual make-up of Lippi's star-studded team, the return of Beckham, almost four years after he was sold to Real Madrid, is sure to be the main attraction.

'It is wonderful that David is coming back,' said Gill.

'He was a very important factor in our success throughout the 1990s and early into the 2000s.

'He is one of the best players the club has had and it is great to have him back.'

Gill has pledged that all proceeds from the game, through ticket sales, television rights and even cash taken at the kiosks will be channelled into charitable causes through the new Manchester United Foundation.

Projects have already been identified in Belgrade, where the Busby Babes played their final game, and Munich, where the plane carrying them back from Yugoslavia on February 6, 1958 crashed, resulting in the deaths of 23 passengers, including eight players.

The club are keen to make a distinction between this game and any actual commemoration of the Munich disaster, which is sure to see calls for funds raised to be given over to the victims' families.

However, any plan to mark that particular sombre occasion with a game on the actual day of the crash will be affected because of FIFA's decision to make it a designated friendly date on their international match calendar.