England manager Fabio Capello watched David Beckham make a winning return to Serie A as he played a starring role in AC Milan's 5-2 victory over Genoa.
Beckham said he was surprised but happy to make a 75-minute appearance on his return to the Rossoneri on loan. The 34-year-old hopes the move will help secure an England place at the 2010 World Cup.
Beckham started the game in attack alongside Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello and he combined well with his team-mates, coming close to scoring in the first half and creating two excellent chances for Borriello.
The England international then moved back into the centre of the midfield in the second half and looked equally comfortable there, although he admitted he had not counted on walking straight into the team.
Beckham said: "I didn't expect to start, but obviously with the injuries we got during the week, I had to. I was happy with the game and happy with the win and it's just great to be back. It felt great."
Beckham has returned to Milan in a bid to earn a place in the England squad at this summer's World Cup and he took his first chance to impress Capello, who was watching on in the stands.
"I didn't know he was there, I only found out afterwards," admitted the former Manchester United player. "But he loves football and he'll go to every game possible. I know he visits all of the Premier League games and, obviously being in Italy over the Christmas period, he was able to come to this game.
"I think it's always important that I work hard and perform well and I felt that I did that tonight but it's just one game."
While Beckham admitted the last month without football had "felt great", he knows there will be little time to rest over the next few weeks.
Second-placed Milan travel to third-placed Juventus in a crucial Serie A fixture on Sunday before playing third division side Novara in the Coppa Italia three days later.
League leaders Inter Milan are the opponents in the Derby della Madonnina later this month and Beckham believes his side is well-placed to mount a challenge for silverware this season.
"I think after the first half of the season, we've done well," he continued. "We are in a great position and we need to continue because Inter are a great team, they are going to keep winning games and they are the team to catch.
"But you know Juventus is a huge game, not just for us but for them as well. It's going to be a tough one but you always enjoy playing in those games."
Milan travel to Turin in confident mood after such a convincing win, sealed by goals from Ronaldinho, Thiago Silva, Marco Borriello (two) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, took them back above the Bianconeri into second place with a game in hand on their rivals.
Meanwhile, Milan coach Leonardo lauded Beckham's versatility, which will provide several more options for the Rossoneri in the second half of the season.
"David has been training a bit in every position this week because we had a few uncertainties with small injuries, like Pato, (Clarence) Seedorf, (Gianluca) Zambrotta and Pirlo," said Leonardo.
"David tried every single role and I think this is what he is all about. He is absolutely open to anything and has extraordinary quality and an enormous tactical intelligence. He is going to help us a great deal."