David Beckham was delighted to finally make his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut on Thursday, but disappointed he couldn't help his Los Angeles Galaxy to a victory.
"It was a good night, but it was also a bad night," said the former England captain, who came on in the 72nd minute of the Galaxy's 1-0 loss to DC United.
"Obviously, there's been a certain amount of pressure because everyone is talking about how I've come to MLS and not played yet. But I don't feel pressure in that sense. I feel pressure in myself to get fit and to get back playing again," he said.
A sellout crowd of 46,686 at RFK Stadium roared when Beckham took the field.
"That cuts out all the frustration that I've had for the last few weeks, ever since I joined the Galaxy and haven't been able to play," Beckham said of the fan reaction.
"Stepping out there and seeing the reaction, it was great. I feel very honored. It was great for me to be on the pitch and to kick a soccer ball around," he said.
Beckham showed little ill effect from the injury to his left ankle that has delayed his official debut, limiting him to just a brief appearance in a friendly against Chelsea last month.
He ran without any noticeable problem but said the injured ligaments in the ankle haven't completely healed.
"It was tender," he admitted. "I haven't played on it for eight weeks, I haven't trained on it for eight weeks, and it was going to be tender tonight because it was the first time I really got into anything competitive."
"But I was happy to be out there. I'm sure there will be [tenderness] for a while because it's not an injury that just heals up and is perfect right away. There will be some reaction tomorrow, but this was a big, important step for me," he said.
Beckham said Galaxy manager Frank Yallop had the final say on Thursday as to whether he would be able to play.
"I told him how I felt," Beckham said. "He said, `If you are confident that you can get through the game without making it any worse, then go and do it,' and that was decided today."
The decision was made easier when a summer storm hit Washington early in the second half, softening up the turf.
"Those were the biggest raindrops I've ever seen," Beckham said. "We don't get them like that back home. That was more surprising than anything."
"But I think it made it more fun. I'm used to that sort of weather, being from England. I like it when the ground is wet," he said.
Beckham, who signed a five-year deal with the Galaxy that worth up to US$250 million, was aware of his role as an ambassador for the US pro league, a minnow among the country's sports.
"We had 40,000-odd fans, so you know it's been a successful night," he said. "A full stadium -- that's what the sport needs."