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By ESPN Staff
Jul 13, 2008

Beckham backs Casillas for Ballon D'Or glory

David Beckham has backed the claims of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas to win the Ballon D'Or as footballer of the year.

Although Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably favourite to claim France Football magazine's coveted award, Casillas also looks to have a solid case for taking over the mantle currently held by Brazilian ace Kaka.

Not only did Casillas help Madrid defend their Primera Liga title last season, but he also won the 'Zamora' award as the goalkeeper with the best goals-against average in the Spanish top flight, conceding just 32 in 36 league goals.

In addition to that, the 27-year-old then captained Spain to glory at Euro 2008 the summer, helping the Iberian nation end a 44-year long wait to win a major trophy.

Many at Madrid believe Casillas deserves to be the first goalkeeper since Russian legend Lev Yashin in 1963 to be win the Ballon D'Or, and Beckham is also of that mind.

'I hope so. He is hugely talented, is a great goalkeeper and a great person. And it would be good if a goalkeeper won it,' said Beckham, who played alongside Casillas for four years at the Bernabeu, in Marca.

'We shall see what happens, but I hope that he wins the Ballon D'Or, he deserves it'

Beckham also admitted to the Spanish newspaper that he would relish the chance to return to Real Madrid sometime in the future to work with the club's youngsters.

Beckham proved a hugely popular figure during his four years at the Primera Liga giants before moving to the MLS with LA Galaxy last summer, and the England midfielder has always spoken highly of his time both at Madrid and in Spain.

'I would like to return to Spain some day and to Real Madrid. To work with the kids or something similar at Madrid would be an honour for me,' said Beckham, who helped Madrid win the Primera Liga title in his final year at the club - his only major trophy during his time at the Bernabeu.

'Everybody knows that I love to work with kids and that I adore Spain. I still have my house in Madrid and if I return some day I already have somewhere to live.

'When the moment comes we will have to see, but to be part of Madrid would be great. I have many friends there and many people who I respect a lot, such as (former president) Florentino Perez, who is one of the best friends I have in Madrid.'

Beckham also repeated his desire not to enter into football management when he retires from the game.

The former Manchester United and Madrid midfielder has played under some great managers during his career, including Sir Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello, but he has again admitted he has no interest in following in their footsteps.

'I have my academy of football here in Los Angeles, but I will never be a coach. I don't have this passion, I prefer to be with my academy and work with the children, with UNICEF...and things like this where you can help people,' he said.

'I love football and I will always continue being involved in it, but I don't want to be working on the sidelines or anything like that.'

The 33-year-old former England captain also spoke in glowing terms of Fabio Capello's dedication to football.

Beckham has seen first hand the Italian's application, both with England and Real Madrid and has been impressed with the passion of Capello, who has also coached AC Milan, Roma and Juventus, and replaced Steve McClaren as England boss in December.

He told Marca: 'He is passionate about football. He has a total dedication to this sport.

'I think he is one of the coaches who spends most time watching football, talking about football, analysing football - and this shows the passion that he feels for his work.

'He always wants the best for his team and for his players. Now that he is England coach I am sure that things are going to go well.

'He is an ambitious coach who only wants to win - and he is someone with a lot of success behind him.'

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