LOS ANGELES — David Beckham stunned the soccer world by moving from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2003. The global superstar was at the top of his game then and would add to his legend with four standout seasons with the La Liga giants.
On Saturday, Beckham will line up against los Merengues for the first time since leaving the Spanish outfit following the 2006-07 La Liga season.
“To be facing Real Madrid for the first time since I left, it’s emotional,” Beckham said. “You get attached to a club, you get attached to people in a club.”
Beckham played for Real Madrid from 2003 to '07 and helped Madrid win La Liga in his final season with the club. His stunning move to Spain made global headlines and paved the way for Beckham to create an impact in yet another world power.
“I spent four amazing years at Real Madrid,” he said. “To go from a club like Manchester United to Real Madrid, it really doesn’t get much better than that in football. I’ve got many friends still there, many friends as players and fans and throughout the club as well.”
The Galaxy have played Real Madrid twice before. In 2005, Beckham led a star-studded Real Madrid squad that included Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos to a friendly match at the Home Depot Center. Real won by 2-0 over the Galaxy who, later that season, went on to win the US Open Cup and MLS Cup.
Last August, the two teams met again in a memorable friendly at the Rose Bowl. The Galaxy took a 2-0 lead before Real Madrid stormed back and won the match 3-2 in front of 89,134. However, Beckham’s participation was limited to an onlooker as he was rehabilitating a torn Achilles tendon.
“It was disappointing because you always want to play in those games,” Beckham said about the match. “They’re exciting games, especially in front of a capacity crowd. Hopefully I’ll be good for this one.”
Since Beckham left the club, Real Madrid have continued bringing in top talent. Cristiano Ronaldo followed in Beckham’s footsteps, leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid, while others such as Iker Casillas, Kaká, Mesut Özil and Karim Benzema will try to help carry on Real Madrid’s legacy.
Sharing a field with such players and against such a storied club is something every footballer looks forward to, Beckham said.
“You always get excited about playing against Real Madrid and some of the best players in the world," he said. "I’m sure the fans are excited as well. It’s any player’s dream to play in these games.”
The LA Galaxy take on star-studded Real Madrid, including former FIFA World Player of the Year winners Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo and five members of Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup winning squad on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. at the LA Coliseum. Tickets are still available for this match, as low as $40! Visit www.lagalaxy.com/worldfootballchallenge for tickets and gameday information.