Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Beckham denies any possible move to Real Madrid

AP , MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

David Beckham broke his silence Tuesday over speculation of a transfer to Real Madrid, saying he has had no contact with the Spanish club and wants to stay at Manchester United.

Newspapers in Spain and in England have published reports that Madrid was ready to spend ?38 million (US$59 million) on the 28-year-old midfielder and England captain.

The papers said his body language at the end of recent games, when he waved to the United fans as if saying farewell, suggested he was ready to make the move.

But Beckham, addressing the speculation for the first time in the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday, appeared to rule out a transfer.

"I want to stay at United," he said. "My feelings for Manchester United, the club itself, the players, the fans and the back room staff, are as strong as ever.

"There's been lots of stuff in the media about me and my future, but I can honestly say that there has been no contact between either me or my adviser, with Real Madrid, or any other club.

"I know [Manchester United chief executive] Peter Kenyon and the manager are saying they want me to stay, and that's good enough for me," Beckham was quoted as saying.

"My affection for the club has never changed from the day I signed for United."

The comments may not end the speculation, however.

Real Madrid issued an official statement last week denying any intention of signing Beckham. But that was largely dismissed by the media in both countries, which pointed out that the club made similar denials before signing Brazilian superstar Ronaldo and French star Zinedine Zidane.

Beckham's comments came two days after a report in a Spanish newspaper that Beckham and his wife, "Posh Spice" Victoria, had registered their 4-year-old son, Brooklyn, with a private school at La Moraleja in north Madrid where many soccer players and celebrities live.

Madrid already has some of the top stars in the game, including Ronaldo, Zidane, Portuguese winger Luis Figo, Spanish striker Raul Gonzalez and Brazilian free kick specialist Roberto Carlos.

Despite signing a ?100,000 (US$160,000) a week, 3-year contract with Manchester United a year ago, Beckham's future at Old Trafford was thrown into doubt after some run-ins with manager Alex Ferguson.

After United lost to Arsenal 2-0 in the FA Cup in February, a furious Ferguson kicked a soccer boot which accidentally struck Beckham in the face. The England captain was seen in public the following the day with stitches above his left eye.

With United trailing 3-1 from the first leg against Real Madrid in the Champions League, Ferguson dropped Beckham to the bench for the return game at Old Trafford last month. Beckham entered the game in the second half with the team 3-2 down and scored two goals -- one on a trademark free kick -- as United won 4-3 on the night only to go out 6-5 on aggregate.

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