Former England captain David Beckham enjoyed a promising French league debut for Paris Saint-Germain, riding warm crowd support in a late cameo during the 2-0 home victory over Olympique de Marseille on Sunday.
The 37-year-old was greeted by a roar from a packed Parc des Princes when he made his first appearance off the bench in the 75th minute and made enough of an impact to please manager Carlo Ancelotti.
“He has brought his passing skills, his experience and some tactical solutions. He only played 20 minutes tonight, but he showed some good things,” Ancelotti, who had coached Beckham during his first spell at AC Milan in 2009, told reporters. “He will be very, very useful.”
Beckham, who has joined the Qatari-backed club on a five-month deal, delivered a trademark long pass from his deep midfield position shortly after coming on and stopped a Marseille counterattack seconds later.
Ancelotti dismissed suggestions he had fielded Beckham because of his iconic status.
“He’s just a player like the others to me,” he said, adding that Beckham could start in tomorrow’s Coupe de France round-of-16 home game against Marseille.
Beckham, who forms one of the world’s most famous celebrity couples with his wife Victoria, a fashion designer and member of British pop act the Spice Girls, has been France’s main attraction since signing for PSG three weeks ago, but has tried to keep his preparations low-profile.
He commented little about his own performance, but gushed about the victory and the warm welcome at the “beautiful” Parc des Princes.
“Obviously, I’m very happy. Very happy to be part of a winning team. It was a very big game,” he told reporters.
“It was a special night for me personally. For the team, it was a great night,” he said.
France midfielder Blaise Matuidi was thrilled to partner with Beckham, one of his childhood heroes.
“It’s true happiness. When I was a kid, I was one of his fans,” the 25-year-old said. “We are really very satisfied to play by his side.”
In other Ligue 1 matches on Sunday, Stade Brestois 29 beat Girondins de Bordeaux 2-0 and Olympique Lyonnais beat Lorient 3-1.