England star midfielder David Beckham labeled Los Angeles Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan as unprofessional on Saturday ahead of his return to the Major League Soccer squad today.
US star Donovan criticized Beckham as stingy, selfish and a poor captain in book excerpts published last week in Sports Illustrated, with Beckham answering on Saturday that Donovan should have come to him with the complaints first.
“It’s unprofessional in my eyes,” Beckham said. “In every soccer player’s eyes throughout the world it would be unprofessional to speak out about a teammate, especially in the press, and not to your face.”
“But I’m going to turn it on a positive spin because that’s what this needs. In 17 years, I have played with the biggest teams in the world and the biggest players and not once have I been criticized for my professionalism,” he said.
Beckham rejoins the Galaxy for practice today ahead of his return match on Thursday at New York and an exhibition game on Sunday against AC Milan, the team for which Beckham was loaned for five months during the Italian season.
“It’s important to get this cleared up and I will be speaking to Landon ... over the next couple of days,” Beckham said. “Me and Landon will talk, but that will be a private conversation.”
Donovan told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that he wished he had spoken to Beckham rather than reveal his feelings to a reporter.
“I’m not going to apologize for the way I felt,” Donovan said. “What I feel badly about is that I should have been a man and told David how I felt as opposed to telling a reporter.”
“Obviously, the lesson I learned is that it’s not something that needs to be public. It’s something we need to figure out within the team and it will get solved,” he said.
Beckham said he does not see any problem in working with Donovan, whose finishes would be vital to Beckham’s precision centering kicks.
“I’m personally very professional when I am on the field,” Beckham said. “I don’t care what people say about me off the field Once I’m on the field I’m professional and if there is a chance for him to score, I’ll be giving him the ball.”
The book, The Beckham Experiment, hits the shelves tomorrow. Beckham said that he will not be among those reading it.
“This is an unofficial book that I have not participated in,” Beckham said. “I haven’t sat down one to one or spoken about the book so there is not comment where I have sat down with the journalist. There are many unofficial books that have been published about me, so this is just another one on the shelf.”
Donovan said that reading the book would provide a better context for his criticism.