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Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Man Utd as good as 1999 Treble-winning team - Beckham

Champions League last 16 first leg
Venue: San Siro Date: Tuesday 16 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: BBC Sport website, Final Score, BBC Radio 5 live and live on Sky Sports 2

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I want to beat Man Utd - Beckham

AC Milan midfielder David Beckham says the current Manchester United team is as good as the Treble-winning side he was part of in 1999.

Beckham, 34, hopes to come up against his former club for the first time since he left in 2003 in Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg.

"I think they are as talented as the team back then," said Beckham.

"The Champions League is important to so many clubs. United are always going to be a strong team."

Beckham spent 12 years with United before joining Real Madrid and helped the Red Devils win the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in the historic Treble of 1999.

However, he insisted he will put emotion to one side in the first leg against his old team in Italy.

We have moved on from Beckham - Ferguson

"It's going to be emotional but, as a United fan, it's the first time I am going to want them to lose," he stated.

"As an AC Milan player I want to beat United - it is important we win the game and progress to the next stage."

Beckham's Old Trafford career ended amid reports that his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson had become strained.

However, the former England captain shook hands with his old mentor before United's Champions League clash with Inter Milan at the San Siro last season.

Beckham, who is on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy, rejected the idea that his motivation to beat United has anything to do with Ferguson and, instead, heaped praise on the 68-year-old Scot.

"Sir Alex will always be a father figure to me," added Beckham. "He always has been and he always will be.

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"No matter what has been said in the past, whether good or bad, I only remember the good times. He was the man who gave me my chance to play for the club I had always dreamed of playing for.

"For me, they were only good times. Sir Alex is respected throughout football all around the world. Clubs move forwards and it was my time to leave Manchester United in 2003, and I moved on.

"I definitely hold nothing against the manager, he's an incredible man.

"He amazes people but for those who have been around him, he doesn't amaze you any more.

"I know the talent and passion he has for the game and for United and it is huge credit to him and United as a club."

For his part, Ferguson talked up his former player's career, which has taken in three of the great European clubs before his move to the United States.

"David has great experience," commented Ferguson. "He's got 100 and something caps for England, he's played for AC Milan, he's played for Real Madrid, he's played for Manchester United.

"It's similar to other AC Milan players like Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini and Alessandro Nesta - they've all got fantastic experience going into big games, and that's what David will bring."

Beckham has been forced to settle for a place on the substitutes' bench for Milan's last two league matches and his presence at Monday's pre-match press conference does not necessarily suggest he will start.

"His appearance here [at the press conference] is important for us and I had asked him personally to come," explained Milan coach Leonardo.

"He is somebody who represents this club and he is here because of his experience and charisma. He's a very smart guy, a polite guy and an incredible player.

Interview - Clarence Seedorf

"If you look at his career you can see that he has done everything in football, not only on the field. He's a complete personality and he proves every day why he's so important for us."

Leonardo acknowledged the importance of Milan keeping a clean sheet at home but vowed not to curb his side's attacking instincts.

"Not conceding is always an objective but we are also a team who try to score goals and to change our identity gets complicated," said the Brazilian World Cup winner.

"This desire to score goals is inherent; it is our identity. To try and find the balance between not conceding and to hurt them I believe is ideal."

Despite the interest surrounding Beckham's reunion with his former club, it is current Manchester United star Wayne Rooney who could hold the key to the tie, having already scored 23 goals for his club this season.

"Manchester United builds up heroes very quickly," stated Ferguson. "We are peculiar because the players, like Beckham, who come through the ranks are always viewed as better than those you buy.

"But Rooney is also regarded as that kind of player. Although he came from Everton, the fans will always look at him as one of the players who has grown up with us.

"He has been fantastic this season and, without doubt, his form this season has brought him to the high point of his career.

"World class is a misused term but with Rooney, you have to say he is getting to the point where he is now one of the best players in the world."



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see also
AC Milan 2-3 Man Utd
16 Feb 10 |  Europe
We do not fear Rooney - Flamini
16 Feb 10 |  Europe
Vidic stresses loyalty to Man Utd
18 Feb 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney 'on a par with Ronaldinho'
13 Feb 10 |  Man Utd
Beckham wins on return to Milan
07 Jan 10 |  Europe
Ferguson wary of Beckham 'circus'
02 Feb 10 |  Europe
Beckham signs AC Milan loan deal
02 Nov 09 |  Europe
Beckham ties up Real move
02 Jul 03 |  Football


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