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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Adios Beckham
By Saj Chowdhury

David Beckham celebrates winning La Liga with Real Madrid team-mates

It seems the second part of the David Beckham trilogy has come to its logical conclusion, with the leading man receiving the Hollywood ending he longed for.

His four-year stint at Real Madrid was a dramatic mix of celebrity and scandal, highs and many lows - both on and off the pitch.

Over the last year, in particular, our intrepid hero occupied a trough he appeared unable to escape from.

Having first been left out of the England set-up, he then found himself shunned by Real for loss of form and the way his agreement to move to Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy in the United States - once the Spanish season ended - was handled.

But Becks, in true Rocky Balboa-style, rose from the canvas to win back his place in Steve McClaren's England squad and then helped the Spanish giants pick up their first Primera Liga title since 2003.

Short of riding off into the sunset - he will probably take a private jet - it is the perfect clichéd denouement to what has been an uneasy journey.

They were looking for means to create revenue and Beckham was part of the solution

El Pais journalist Diego Romano Torres

El Pais journalist Diego Romano Torres, who has closely followed the 32-year-old midfielder since his arrival in Madrid, says the aura of David Beckham will be missed by the club and fans alike.

"He played his best football in the last six months and fans will remember him for that and for the part he played in Real's title success," Torres told BBC Sport.

"They liked him during that time because he was a warrior and that was in sync with the mentality of Real Madrid."

But Torres stressed that he believes the "warrior" did not show up often enough for the club.

"Looking back at the four years, I do think he spoiled his time at Real by thinking about Beckham the brand rather than Beckham the footballer," added Torres.

David Beckham signed for Real in 2003
Joining Real was good business for Beckham and Real

"Beckham should have been more concerned with matters on the pitch, although the club did not help matters by valuing him more for what he did off the pitch.

"It's unfortunate because I think he was happy with the idea of being the symbol of the Real Madrid brand."

Whether Beckham was happy with the situation or not is something we are unlikely to ever find out but what was clear is that Real were keen to use him as a marketing tool.

The club had been saddled with a huge debt, having spent millions on bringing in the likes of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo - and then paying their 'galactico' wages.

At £25m, Beckham was not cheap either but he went some way to paying off his fee, while enhancing Real's profile across the world.

"I don't think he is solely to blame for the way he was perceived because of the club's financial problems," said Torres.

"They were looking for means to create revenue and Beckham was part of the solution. He was a big draw in the Far East and Real ensured they exploited that for all its worth."

Beckham, however, was first and foremost a footballer and was unfortunate to be in a Real side that was in transition.

"The club was lost, wandering between the old era and new one, looking for an identity in the football industry," said Torres.

The former England captain's highlights on the field were few and far between but Real also blew more cold than hot.

Prior to this season's league title triumph, Real finished fourth and then second twice to arch-rivals Barcelona - the most bitter of pills to swallow.

My biggest mistake was not to count on Beckham after he announced he was leaving

Real coach Fabio Capello

The last year has proved particularly traumatic for Beckham.

After England crashed out of the 2006 World Cup, Beckham stepped down as captain of his national team but insisted that he would continue playing for his country, if picked.

However, new coach McClaren omitted Beckham from his first squad and it seemed unlikely he would add to his then total of 94 caps.

Things went from bad to worse when Real sporting director Predrag Mijatovic revealed last January that Beckham's contract would not be renewed.

The England player subsequently took up the interest shown by LA Galaxy, who offered him a five-year contract worth a reported £128m.

He was criticised by Real coach Fabio Capello for negotiating a deal with another club when still contracted to the Spanish team and was then told he would never play for them again.

But poor results for Real and hard work in training led to Beckham being recalled to the squad for the match against Sevilla.

And he made an instant impact on his return, scoring in the 2-1 victory.

Excellent performances continued and put pressure on McClaren to recall Beckham, who inspired England to a 3-0 win in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia earlier this month.

"I made several misjudgements but my biggest mistake was not to count on Beckham after he announced he was leaving," said Capello. "Not keeping him in the side was my biggest error."

Beckham is still playing a high level of football and therefore his time at LA Galaxy will come under close scrutiny as he tries to balance his international career when playing in what critics have dubbed a sub-standard league.

How it will pan out is anyone's guess but will certainly be worth staying tuned in to developments.

SEE ALSO
Lalas eyes Beckham injury verdict
19 Jun 07 |  Football
Comment: Why Spain rules
19 Jun 07 |  Football
Capello unsure over Real future
19 Jun 07 |  Europe
Reyes in 'keep me' plea to Real
19 Jun 07 |  Arsenal
Beckham's Real career in photos
11 Jan 07 |  Football
Spanish football photos
17 Jun 07 |  Football
Beckham assured of England future
15 Jun 07 |  Football
Beckham rules out Madrid U-turn
14 Jun 07 |  Europe
'Drastic cutback' on Beckham show
14 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Beckham warned over flight risks
08 Jun 07 |  Football
England return delights Beckham
02 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Estonia 0-3 England
06 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Galaxy owners defend Beckham move
12 Jan 07 |  Football
Real coach calls time on Beckham
13 Jan 07 |  Football


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