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David Beckham's jet-set playing schedule
By Matt Slater

Golf legend Gary Player claims to having flown over 14 million miles during his career - that is more small packets of pretzels and free wash bags than any other athlete. But now his record stash might be under threat.

When David Beckham signed for the Los Angeles Galaxy in January he would have been expecting to boost his air miles balance simply criss-crossing the United States with his new team.

79,000 miles travelled (over three times around the world)
165 hours in the air (nearly an entire week on planes)
128 time zones crossed
Beckham's likely totals from this week to the end of Nov
But once he won back his place in Steve McClaren's affections it soon became clear he would be logging flight statistics most long-haul pilots would wince at.

And with both club and country facing a packed autumn as they attempt to qualify for the play-offs and Euro 2008 respectively, serious concerns have been raised about the effects of this globe-trotting on a 32-year-old footballer.

Starting with Wednesday's friendly against Germany, the former England captain is scheduled to play at least 22 games, in seven different time zones, before the end of November. And that could get worse if the Galaxy reach the play-offs.

The flying alone is staggering: he will have flown the equivalent of over three times around the equator and spent almost an entire week in the air by the time he returns from the Galaxy's visit to Sydney.

Sports news commissioning editor Richard Burgess
This is based only on his football commitments. It does not include any flights he will have to take if the Galaxy make the play-offs, a flight he might have to take for the final of the Superliga tournament at the end of this month or any sponsorship/media duties he may have over the next three months.

Give or take a few educated guesses about routes he might take (there are no scheduled direct flights between LA and Columbus and Kansas City, for example), these numbers are probably on the conservative side.

Here is Beckham's recipe for ruin:

18/8: New York Red Bulls v LA Galaxy
22/8: England v Germany
23/8: Galaxy v Chivas USA
26/8: Colorado Rapids v Galaxy
29/8: Galaxy v Pachua: Superliga final, venue and time TBC
1/9: Galaxy v Real Salt Lake
8/9: England v Israel
12/9: England v Russia
13/9: Chivas USA v Galaxy (in LA)
16/9: Galaxy v Houston Dynamo
19/9: Real Salt Lake v Galaxy
23/9: Galaxy v Dallas
27/9: Kansas City Wizards v Galaxy
30/9: Columbus Crew v Galaxy
3/10: Vancouver Whitecaps v Galaxy
7/10: Houston Dynamo v Galaxy
10/10: Minnesota Thunder v Galaxy
13/10: England v Estonia
17/10: Russia v England
18/10: Galaxy v New York Red Bulls
21/10: Chicago Fire v Galaxy
MLS play-offs, culminating in MLS Cup Final on 18/11
21/11: England v Croatia
27/11: Sydney FC v Galaxy

Having played or trained little since the end of the Spanish season, Beckham claims to be full of beans. That feeling will not last long as he subjects his body to a gruelling playing schedule, the tiring effects of travel and constant changes to his body clock.

I'd be surprised if something doesn't have to give - it is unlikely to be sustainable

Dr Roslyn Carbon
Pure Sports Medicine
One brutal nine-day period leaps out as a potential breaking point. On 10 October Beckham and the Galaxy play in Minnesota. From there he will take an eight-hour flight, jumping six time zones, to get to London for England's qualifier against Estonia three days later.

He will then fly to Moscow with England for the crucial fixture against Russia - a four-hour flight and three more time zones - four days later, before returning to London to catch his plane back to Los Angeles for the Galaxy's penultimate game of the season against New York the following evening.

That is four games, in four different time zones, in nine days. It is also over one day in the air and 20 time zones crossed - hardly conducive to peak athletic performance and very possibly more than any athlete's body can handle.

As Dr Roslyn Carbon, a former medical director at the English Institute of Sport who has been to five Olympics with the GB team, told BBC Sport: "I'd be surprised if something doesn't have to give.

"Most people in sport would tell you that unless this is carefully managed this is less likely to work than it is likely to work. It is unlikely to be sustainable."

So, the chance to do what Pele could not and break soccer in the States or one last tilt at silverware with the national team? Over to you, David.

Galaxy admit Beckham travel fears
23 Aug 07 |  Football
Beckham's air miles worry experts
23 Aug 07 |  Football
Beckham's travels in pictures
23 Aug 07 |  Football
England 1-2 Germany
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Beckham plays full Galaxy match
19 Aug 07 |  Football
Beckham denies split-loyalty talk
16 Aug 07 |  Football


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