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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 06:55 GMT
Mandaric dismisses Beckham impact
David Beckham and Milan Mandaric
Watch more of the interview... Football Focus
Sat 24 Feb, from 1210 GMT
New Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric says David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy will have no impact on the popularity of football in the USA.

Mandaric was involved in the North American Soccer League during the 1970s and was behind George Best's move to San Jose Earthquakes.

"Why would one man make a difference in a nation of 300 million people?" Mandaric told Football Focus.

"Americans have chosen their sports and soccer isn't one of them."

Former Portsmouth chairman Mandaric owned San Jose Earthquakes during the 1970s when Best, Pele and a host of the game's biggest stars joined the North American Soccer League.

But despite huge crowds at the stadia, US television companies couldn't be convinced and the league folded in the 1980s.

Mandaric added: "We tried thirty years ago when we had a very powerful league for those days.

"I appreciate what David's done and he's a great athlete and good footballer, but we had a lot better players than David Beckham there then - Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Johan Cruyff, a lot of big names.

"We tried to put one of those big names in each team to try to elevate the popularity of the game, but we just could not do it."

Beckham will earn a reported 128m over five years after agreeing to leave Real Madrid for the Major League Soccer side at the end of the season.

  • Watch more of this interview on Football Focus on BBC ONE this Saturday at 1210 GMT.

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