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Jan, 11, 2007

MLS chief hails Beckham capture

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber believes David Beckham's presence will inspire the game in the United States to new levels after the former England captain opted to move to Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 31-year-old will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season to join the California side on a £128million, five-year deal.

Watch an ESPN interview with MLS commissioner Don Garber here

The former Manchester United midfielder will remain at Real for the rest of the season before beginning his MLS career in August.

Beckham's future in Spain had been the centre of speculation for some time and he revealed in a statement today that he had chosen to forego a two-year extension to his contract at the Bernabeu and move to LA instead to look for a 'new challenge'.

Now Garber has welcomed Beckham's choice and insisted his presence will serve to invigorate the game in the United States.

Garber said: 'David Beckham is a global sports icon who will transcend the sport of soccer in America.

'His decision to continue his storied career in Major League Soccer is testament to the fact that America is rapidly becoming a true `Soccer Nation' with Major League Soccer at the core.

'In the last few years, MLS has added three new teams, six new owners, four new soccer-specific stadiums and signed four long-term television agreements. The addition of David Beckham represents another significant step forward for the MLS and the sport.

'As importantly, David's enormous success as a player and team leader will serve as an inspiration to millions of soccer players and fans in this country and his global popularity will help take MLS and the sport of soccer in this country to an unprecedented level of excitement and popularity here and abroad.'

Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop also added that it will be 'a dream come true' to manage David Beckham when he moves to his club this summer.

Yallop, a former Canada coach and Ipswich player, told Sky Sports: 'It's wonderful news for us, and we are really happy to have David joining us.

'He's a fantastic footballer. He has proved himself over the years, and it will be wonderful to have him - and to be able to manage and coach him will be a dream come true for me.

'He is going to do very well here. He is coming here at the peak of his career. He is ready to make a real impact on and off the field, and we are going to enjoy it.'

Yallop, 42, believes Beckham will be well suited to the style of play in the US - and gave an early indication of the role he is likely to play.

'He will fit in quite nicely,' Yallop continued.

'I see him playing centrally in our league. We have to get him on the ball as much as we can, making us tick.'

'It's an athlete's game here, played at a little less pace than the Premiership.

'I think it will suit his game wonderfully well, because he will get to play his football and he will enjoy the players we have here. He will fit in nicely with our group.'

However, not everyone was happy with the move, Terry Cooke, now with the Colorado Rapids, shared digs with Beckham as a teenager when they were trainees at Old Trafford and said: 'It's a disgrace if it's true what I've heard about how much he's going to be earning,' said Cooke.

'Obviously it's good for him, but we have a salary cap here for each team which is 1.9 million (£976,000) for a roster of 28 players.

'I love Becks to bits. He's a great player - we lived together in Manchester - and it's not his fault.

'Any player will get what he can get, and fair play to him. I just think the way the league is structured it's a disgrace.

'I heard that the salary cap might be raised by a few hundred grand for next season. But even so, it doesn't matter who it is; you can't justify paying one player that sort of money.

'It's marketing money - but they've got to be careful, because this is what happened in the 1970s.

'They [the now defunct NASL] started throwing money about to Pele, George Best and those sorts of players - and it backfired. They're trying to do that again, but for the wrong reasons.'

Right-winger Cooke, who overcame a career-threatening knee injury, left United for Manchester City before his career stalled at Sheffield Wednesday.

He led the MLS last year in `assists', despite a mid-season knee injury. Now 31, he hopes his former flatmate still has the desire to succeed on the field as well as off it.

'I just hope he's come for the right reasons,' he said.

'I left England for personal reasons. My name was `blackballed' around clubs for no apparent reason, and I had to get away from it.

'I came over here at a good age, 28, three years ago - and I was playing at a high level.

'Let's hope he's still hungry and wants to make a future for himself, to still play soccer and love the game - not just for the showbiz lifestyle, which he's going to have in LA.

'It will end up being a circus, and if it all goes pear-shaped, Becks has signed a five-year guaranteed contract worth all that money - and it's going to bust the league again.'

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