Beckham heading to Paris Saint-Germain
This Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 file photo shows England's David Beckham applauding the crowd after their World Cup group 6 qualifying soccer match against Belarus at Wembley Stadium, London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:45AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 2:22PM EST
PARIS -- David Beckham pledged to donate his salary to a children's charity Thursday after signing a five-month contract with Paris-Saint Germain, the latest stop on his globe-trotting career.
The 37-year-old former England captain joined PSG after turning down several other offers and pledging to effectively play for free. No financial details were given as to how much Beckham's salary would be or the name of the charity. The decision was taken early Thursday morning.
"It's something we (decided) together, it's one of the things we talked about from the start. But this all happened so quick," Beckham said. "I thought what a great idea it would be, that the salary would go to a children's charity in Paris."
Beckham's glamorous career has seen him win titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"Every club I have played for throughout the world, I have been successful with. I have been successful with Manchester United, and I have always said that I would never want to play for another English club," Beckham said. "It's the team that I support, that I always dreamt of playing for."
Beckham recently finished a six-year stint in the United States with the Galaxy. Whether he can still be a force in European football is still uncertain.
"I am very lucky. I am 37 years old and I got offered a lot of offers, more offers now than I have probably had in my career, at my age," Beckham said. "I am very honoured about that. I chose Paris because I can see what the club are trying to do, the players the club are trying to bring in. It's an exciting city, always has been, always will be."
Beckham was close to joining PSG last year, discussing a potential move with sporting director Leonardo as PSG desperately chased a big name to match its new-found status and seemingly endless funds from its Qatari backers.
But the move fell through and PSG moved on to other targets, capturing striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his AC Milan teammate Thiago Silva, Napoli winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and Brazilian prodigy Lucas.
"I felt last year that I still had something to achieve in Los Angeles. I won the championship in the last year of my contract and yes, we spoke to Leo a number of times but I think we both came to the thought that it wasn't the right time," Beckham said. "So we parked it and decided that right now is the right time because I was at the end of my contract last year. I accepted one more year in Los Angeles, I won another championship, another trophy in Los Angeles and I believe it was the right time to leave."
Early Thursday, the move was finally done. And shortly before noon, the much-travelled Beckham made the short flight to Paris.
"This literally all happened at 1 a.m. this morning and was finalized when I got on the plane at 11 a.m.," Beckham said. "Right now, I have a few things to sort out with my children and the schooling and a few other things. I have been training at Arsenal. My fitness won't take long to get up to speed. I definitely won't be fit for next Friday. A few weeks and I'll be up to speed."
While he was on the flight, Beckham agreed on a novel way of putting his big salary to good use.
"We decided on something that is quite unique -- I won't receive any salary. We have decided that my salary will go towards a local children's charity in Paris. And that's one of things we are very excited and proud to be able to do," he said. "It's something I'm not sure has been done before, and it's something I'm very passionate about, children and the charity side of things, and so are the club. We came together and it's something special."
Although Beckham's deal runs out in June, he intends to carry on playing, although whether or not that will still be with PSG remains to be decided. However, he is eager to have a long-term role at the club.
"We slightly brushed over it, a long-term partnership is what we have looked for," he said. "Short-term is playing but long-term is something we are very proud to be part of this organization that will grow and become one of the biggest in Europe."
Immaculately dressed and groomed, Beckham was a model of elegance and calm as camera crews and photographers jostled for the best positions amid frenzied scenes in a tightly packed press room. He even joked that he feels much younger than his age.
"To be the elder statesman, I'm very proud of that," Beckham said. "No matter what my age is, I still feel 21 years old -- most days."