Beckham waves to fans during the half-time break in a celebration soccer
match between Manchester United and an Europe XI to mark the 50th
anniversary of Manchester United appearing in European competition at Old
Trafford in Manchester, northern England, March 13, 2007. [Reuters]
Manchester United turned David Beckham into an
international star, and on Tuesday he bid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford before he leaves European soccer for
the United States.
Beckham joined United in 1989 at 14, debuted the next year, and transferred in 2003 to Real Madrid. He will join
Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy after his contract with the Spanish
club expires June 30.
"The time I spent at this club was the best time in my whole football
career," Beckham told the 74,000-sellout crowd at halftime of a charity match.
Injury forced him to withdraw from a star-filled European side that faced
United to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union and the Red
Devils' half century of play in continental soccer.
Man United won 4-3,
getting two goals from Wayne Rooney and one each from Wes Brown and Cristiano
Ronaldo. El-Hadji Diouf scored twice for Europe and Florent Malouda had a goal.
Since he moved to Spain, the 31-year-old Beckham had returned to the stadium
in northwest England as the captain of England's national team but hadn't been
able to personally thank United for 14 years that brought the club many
"I've waited four years to actually come back and to actually say thank you
to the fans and the people of the club," he said.
Beckham won six English Premier League titles and the European Champions
League during his United career.
He told fans he was grateful for the strong support shown in his toughest
time after he was ejected during England's World Cup match against Argentina in
"I think I wouldn't have got through many things without the people in this
stadium," he said.
On the field, he publicly supported United manager Alex Ferguson, who struck
Beckham's eye with a football
boot on the eve of his departure.
"Everybody knows here that you've got the best manager in the world at this
club," he told the crowd to rapturous applause.
United leads the Premier League by nine points and remains in contention for
the Champions League and The Football Association Cup.
"I think this team is going to be incredible, and I think they're going to go
on and win many things, not just this year but throughout many years to come,"
he said. "So good luck and thank you."
sellout：满座（的），座无虚席，如：The concert was a
charity match: 慈善义赛