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Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Beckham makes Milan Serie A debut

Beckham on the ball during Milan's game against Roma
Beckham played 89 minutes for Milan after being handed a surprise start

On-loan AC Milan midfielder David Beckham made his competitive Serie A debut against Roma on Sunday.

Beckham played 89 minutes in the Olympic Stadium before he was replaced by Mathieu Flamini as Milan drew 2-2.

The England international had been expected to start on the bench, but Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti played him on the right of a three-man midfield.

Beckham had not played a competitive game since the end of the MLS season with Los Angeles Galaxy in October.

"I found out I was going to start before the game during the team meeting," said the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player.

"I was very happy that the manager kept me on for as long as he did because it is important for me to get match fitness. To be honest, I felt better than I thought I would feel.

"I was surprised to have started the game but I am happy. Playing out there is what I love doing and I enjoyed it.

"I didn't think I would last that long but I felt so good. At half-time I felt really strong. I think the manager saw that I felt good, that I still had energy and he kept me on.

"Now I just hope to start some more games, but I will take one step at a time."

Ancelotti said Beckham, 33, had been rewarded for his commitment in training.


"I decided to start with Beckham because he had demonstrated over the last few days that he was intelligent, serious and committed," said the Italian.

"This was his reward for settling in so quickly. I will never tire of pointing out that he is an exemplary professional who works hard."

Mirko Vucinic put Roma ahead midway through the first half with his third goal in three games against Milan when he blasted home.

Just after the interval, Alexandre Pato equalised when he tapped in Kaka's cross - and the 19-year-old Brazilian striker soon clipped in a superb second.

Montenegro striker Vucinic again netted with a diving header on 72 minutes to secure Roma a point.

Beckham's stint with the Italian club ends in March, when the Major League Soccer season resumes, but it has been suggested that he may be tempted to extend his stay at Milan if his spell goes well.

The midfielder added after the match: "The contract and the agreement is that I go back to LA on March 8th or 9th so I'm going to enjoy it up to then and we'll see.

Beckham celebrates with Pato, who scored both of Milan's goals
Beckham celebrates with Pato, who scored both of Milan's goals
"It is great to play at this club and to be out there with some great players.

"I'm enjoying being part of this team and training with these players but I will take it one step at a time.

"It's pretty amazing to be among some of those players and I'm glad to just give them the ball and they'll deliver."

The Italian press gave Beckham average marks for his performance.

"Ninety minutes that nobody expected," reported the Gazetta dello Sport, which gave the player six out of ten. "He played hard, crossed, shot and helped with humility. For his debut it was enough."

The Rome-based Corriere dello Sport, which also gave Beckham a six for his display, was less complimentary.

"He made few errors, without shining, in the first half," the paper commented. "In the second half, he exited nearly completely from the scene."

It added that Beckham "seemed disorientated, and had trouble understanding where his position on the field should be".

One of the reasons Beckham moved to Italy was to help him maintain his fitness as he seeks to prolong his international career.

England's next game is a friendly against European champions Spain on 11 February.

If selected, Beckham would equal Bobby Moore's outfield record of 108 caps.

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see also
European football photos
10 Jan 09 |  Europe
Beckham 'may not return to MLS'
09 Jan 09 |  Europe
Beckham makes AC Milan debut
06 Jan 09 |  Europe
Beckham needs games, says Capello
15 Dec 08 |  Internationals
Beckham set to equal Moore caps
18 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Beckham achieves century landmark
26 Mar 08 |  Internationals
Beckham hails impact of Capello
16 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Gullit and Lalas exit LA Galaxy
11 Aug 08 |  Football

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