Soccer legend David Beckham says he will play his final game with the Los Angeles Galaxy when the Major League Soccer club hosts Houston in the MLS Cup match next month, but where he goes from there remains a mystery.
The 37-year-old former England captain and veteran of three World Cups notably did not mention anything about retiring from the sport.
“I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy. However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career,” Beckham said in a news release on Monday.
Beckham had scheduled a news conference in Los Angeles for yesterday.
The soccer superstar has spent the past six seasons with the Galaxy, leading Los Angeles to an MLS Cup title last season, when they defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0.
Beckham and the Galaxy go for their second consecutive crown when they face the Dynamo in a repeat of last year’s final on Dec. 1 at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham said in a statement released by the team that the game would be his last for the Galaxy, as he hopes to move on and eventually become a part-owner of an MLS team in the future.
“I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future,” he said.
Beckham did not go into any specifics about what he meant by “one last challenge” or what he plans to do next.
There have been reports out of Australia that their professional league was trying to woo him and there was an immediate statement of intent from Melbourne Heat, with chief executive officer Scott Munn saying the club would make an offer.
Beckham’s name has also been linked to the Western Sydney Wanderers, while the Central Coast Mariners, based north of Sydney, are similarly thought to be keen.
There has also been some interest from European clubs with Qatari-backed Paris Saint-Germain having come close to signing Beckham earlier this year and he spent two short loan spells at AC Milan in 2009 and 2010.
However, a return to the Premier League in England appeared to be highly unlikely.
“In my time here, I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year,” Beckham said of his stint in Los Angeles. “I’ve been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I’ve had from fans in LA and across the States. Soccer’s potential has no limits in this wonderful country, and I want to always be part of growing it.”
This is Beckham’s “final competitive game with the Galaxy,” Galaxy spokesman Justin Pearson said on Monday.
Pearson said he did not know what Beckham would say at the press conference scheduled for yesterday.
“He said what he said,” Pearson replied. “It will be discussed tomorrow. Whether or not answers are there is unknown.”
Beckham has been capped 115 times for England, scoring 17 goals, while captaining the side on more than 50 occasions.
He captured a half dozen Premier League titles during a sensational 12-year career at Manchester United that also saw him win the FA Cup twice and the 1999 Champions League title.
In July 2003, Beckham signed with Real Madrid, helping them to the 2006 to 2007 La Liga title. He joined the Galaxy the following year, debuting in a friendly against Chelsea at the Home Depot Center.
“Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport,” said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group.
“David not only took our franchise to another level, but he took our sport to another level. It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours,” Leiweke said.
Beckham helped grow the sport in the US, but his time in southern California has not been without controversy.
He has had run-ins with fans before. His loans to European teams, which caused him to miss parts of MLS seasons, angered some Los Angeles fans who displayed their dislike with signs at games that said: “Go home fraud,” and “Part-time player.”