David Beckham brought the curtain down on his Real Madrid career, and possibly he’s career at the highest level, with a La Liga medal, his first piece of silverware during his 4 year stint in Madrid, after Madrid beat Mallorca to win the league on the final day.
In front of a capacity crowd, that included Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sitting with Victoria Beckham, and triple French Open winner Raphael Nadal, Madrid started nervously and as Barcalona took a 3-0 lead into the half, Madrid found themselves 1-0 down and without La Liga’s top scorer, Van Nistelrooy, who limped off with a injury. After all the talk of the fairytale ending to Beckhams Spanish adventure it was looking more likely that the fruitless three seasons past would again repeat themselves.
The second half got worse as Barca took a 4-0 lead and began to think about the title.The stage was set for the fairytale to unfold as Roborto Carlos, like Beckham also playing his final match for Madrid, was brought down outside the box, in Beckham territory. As the stadium held its collective breath, waiting for the departing hero to signal his final act in a Madrid shirt by continuing his almost signal handed fight to rescue Madrid’s season, Beckhams freekick floated over the wall and dipped a fraction too late as it clipped the top of the bar. Beckham, who had not trained since injuring his leg while on England duty, could not last the full 90 minutes and was taken off after the hour mark, replaced by Reyes, his final act as a Madrid player completed, he could now only watch. They Reyes substitution changed the match as within minutes of coming on he equalised and from that moment on it was all Real. Two more goals followed, the last a great strike by Reyes again, and Beckham had his La Liga medal.
While all of Madrid will mourn the loss of Beckham, as he takes his brand to LA Galaxy, the loss will certainly be felt by the top scorer in Spain this season, Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ruud benefited from Becks crossing during his years at United at it was the double act of Beckham and van Nistelrooy that brought Madrid from the brink of disaster to league champions in the space of a few months. The final match of the season may have been one to many for Becks to influence, but next season, a Madrid without the Beckham supply line, will find goals harder to come by.
Beckham may have come to Madrid in the mist of a media circus, he may have left with his new pals Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in tow, but in between that the Madrid fans will have enjoyed a thoroughly professional player, who always gave his best for the team, a man who lead from the front, who let his right foot do the talking, and a player who, although he gave a lot on the pitch, will be remembered more when he is no longer there, when the crosses aren’t streaming in from the right, when freekicks are given in his area, when the players run out of ideas, David Beckham, the footballer, will be missed. Surely they will regret the club stalling over handing him a new deal and losing him to the less intense Major League Soccer.
All the realisations have come to late. The next chapter in the life of David Beckham begins in a few weeks in LA, possibly against Chelsea, although England will be hoping his legs have a little left in them for the final hurdle of the European qualifiers. Whether or not this is the case many at United and Madrid will be feeling that Beckham should still be doing a job for them. And the kids in LA will be licking their lips and lining the streets for tickets as the circus moves to America, and the star attraction hopes to make America take notice of the the worlds best game. Good luck to him, he’s done his bit for us all.