David Beckham has admitted newspaper allegations about his private life affected his form for Real Madrid last season. Beckham was accused of having an affair with his personal assistant, Rebecca Loos - claims he denies - at a time when his performances for Madrid were on a downward spiral.
"People talk a lot about what happened, but I don't know exactly, but a series of things happened - all of them away from the pitch," he said. "None of them were true, but they affected me a lot.
"Also I had several injuries that affected me. Fortunately all that's forgotten now and I am once again happy with my wife and family and playing football," said Beckham, who added it had been the first time his private life had affected his on-field performance. "Until then when I went on to the pitch I only thought about football, but this time it was different. I know I am a public figure and for that reason, I try to leave my life that isn't football off the park and until then I had been successful."
Real finished a disappointing fourth in the Primera Liga last season and were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions' League, but Beckham insists he never thought about leaving the club. "I never, never, never thought about leaving Madrid," he said. "I signed a contract with Madrid and always intended to see it out."
Beckham has been joined at the Bernabeu in recent weeks by fellow England internationals Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate. The arrival of Owen - and the return of Fernando Morientes from his successful loan spell at Monaco - has led to suggestions that the Real coach, Jose Camacho, will have problems keeping his glut of strikers happy, but Beckham does not agree.
"It has to be a good problem to have so many players like that. It is great news Morientes has returned and, of course, Owen is one of the best," he said.
Beckham added: "Woodgate is a great defender and I am convinced he will triumph at Real Madrid. He is young, but has a lot of experience and I think he will be great for the team."