Official: Beckham quits Real for LA

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The Independent Football

David Beckham will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and join side Los Angeles Galaxy on a £128million ($250million) five-year deal.

The former England captain will leave Real in June and begin his new career in Major League Soccer in August.

Beckham said in a statement released to PA Sport: "This week, Real Madrid asked me to make a decision regarding my future and the offer to extend my contract by a further two seasons.

"After discussing several options with my family and advisers to either stay here at Madrid or join other major British and European clubs, I have decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the MLS from August this year.

"I would like to thank the supporters and people of Madrid who have made my family and I feel so welcome in my time here, making this an extremely difficult decision to make.

"I have enjoyed my time in Spain enormously and I am extremely grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to play for such a great team and their amazing fans.

"I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world's most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own.

"For the rest of this season I will continue to give 100% to my coach, team mates and fans as I believe Fabio Capello will bring this club and its supporters the success they truly deserve."

In terms of finances it is a mega deal and compares with the biggest in mainstream US sports American football and baseball.

The MLS have recently changed their salary cap rules to allow sides to make 'marquee signings' of top international stars. The Beckham deal will see the 31-year-old benefit directly from all his image rights and related sponsorship deals which in the past have had to be shared with his club.

The Real Madrid future of the world's most famous footballer had been shrouded in doubt, especially after coach Fabio Capello this week dropped him from the squad - the first time it had happened to Beckham since he moved from Manchester United in July 2003.

During those three and a half years, Beckham has seen six different coaches appointed while Real have failed to win a single trophy.

Capello's arrival at the start of the season could have heralded a new era for Beckham, who was dropped from new England boss Steve McClaren's squad in August, but instead he found himself often sidelined.

Real had been very keen to keep the midfielder - his marketing power remains a huge draw to fans across the globe - but after talks today he announced he will be moving to Los Angeles.



DAVID BECKHAM FACTFILE

1975: Born Leytonstone, May 2.

1991: Joined Manchester United as trainee.

1992: Made his debut for United against Brighton in the League Cup on September 23. Wins FA Youth Cup.

1993: Signed professional contract at Old Trafford.

1995: Joined Preston on loan in February and scored two goals in five games.

1996: Helped United win Double, collecting Premiership winners' medal and FA Cup winners' medal.

Scored goal of the season on the opening day at Wimbledon, lobbing goalkeeper Neil Sullivan from the halfway line. Made his England debut in the 3-0 qualifying win in Moldova.

1997: Collected another championship winners' medal, voted PFA Young Player of the Year. United win Charity Shield.

1998: Scored first England goal, a free-kick against Colombia in Lens on June 26. Sent off in second round penalty shoot-out defeat against Argentina.

Vilified by a nation for the retaliatory kick against Diego Simeone which many people believe cost England place in quarter-finals.

1999: Responded excellently to World Cup disgrace with consistently good performances for United, who win the Premiership, FA Cup and, memorably, the European Cup after coming from behind to beat Bayern Munich with two late goals.

Rewarded for a fine season by being voted runner-up in World Player of the Year awards, behind Brazilian Rivaldo.

2000: Blotted copybook with dismissal in United's opening World Club Championship match with Mexican side Necaxa, for a high challenge on Jose Milian.

February: Left out of Manchester United's team for the Premiership match against Leeds United following reports of a training ground bust-up with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

May: Collects his fourth championship winner's medal as United win the title by a record 18 points.

June: Aims gesture at abusive England fans following defeat in the opening game of Euro 2000 against Portugal. England bow out in group stages of the tournament.

November: Made England captain for the November friendly with Italy in Turin by stand-in boss Peter Taylor.

2001: New England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson appoints Beckham as captain for his first match in charge, the friendly against Spain at Villa Park.

May: Collects another Premiership title with Manchester United.

September: Captains England to their remarkable 5-1 victory in Germany.

October: Curls in a 25-yard last-minute free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford to earn England a 2-2 draw and send them into the World Cup finals.

November: Short-listed by FIFA for World Footballer of the Year.

December 9: Voted the BBC's 2001 Sport Personality of the Year.

2002: January 4: Manchester United deny contract negotiations have broken down and Beckham is not up for sale.

April 10: A two-footed tackle from Deportivo's Pedro Duscher in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final results in the England skipper hobbling off the pitch with a broken bone in his left foot.

United confirm he will be out for between six to eight weeks, which would mean him missing the rest of United's season and possibly the start of the World Cup.

May 5: Ferguson states Beckham will be "100% to play in the World Cup".

May 11: Signs new three-year contract reported to be worth between £90,000 and £100,000 a week.

June 7: Beckham, who was able to lead England out for their opening World Cup match against Sweden, scores from the penalty spot against Argentina to seal a 1-0 win. England bow out in the quarter-finals at the hands of eventual winners Brazil.

October: Scored against Slovakia and Macedonia as England started their Euro 2004 qualifying campaign with a win and a draw.

2003: February: Beckham involved in new controversy after Ferguson accidentally kicks a boot into his face in frustration at United's FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, leaving the England skipper with a gash above his eye.

April 23: Beckham left out of the starting line-up for United's crucial Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash with Real Madrid at Old Trafford. Beckham scores twice as a substitute but it is too late to save the Red Devils, who lose 6-5 on aggregate.

May 22: Suffers a fractured scaphoid (bone between thumb and wrist) in 2-1 friendly victory over South Africa.

June 7: United admit Italian and Spanish clubs have expressed a "firm interest" in signing Beckham.

June 10: United accept a bid made by Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta for Beckham. Laporta has made signing Beckham the cornerstone of his election campaign.

June 14: Awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to football.

June 17: United announce they have accepted a £25million bid from Real Madrid for Beckham and player agrees personal terms.

July 1: Passes medical with Real Madrid and signs four-year deal.

October 11: Helps England secure the goalless draw in Turkey which clinches automatic qualification for Euro 2004 but is involved in a half-time bust-up with Alpay as the teams leave the pitch.

2004, May 16: Sent off for arguing with a linesman over a controversial penalty award during Real Madrid's La Liga clash with Murcia.

June 24: Misses a penalty as England lose to Portugal in a shoot-out in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals in Lisbon.

October 9: Scores stunning goal for England to clinch victory against Wales but is then injured in a challenge with Ben Thatcher and booked minutes later for a rash challenge on the same player. The booking rules him out of the World Cup qualifier with Azerbaijan. X-ray reveals hairline fracture of a rib.

October 12: In newspaper report, Beckham reveals he deliberately got himself a yellow card so that he would miss the Azerbaijan World Cup qualifier through suspension, knowing that he was already going to miss the game through injury.

October 13: FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he is astonished by Beckham's admission and "disappointed with his behaviour". Beckham issues a statement in which he admits he "made a mistake" and apologises to the FA, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, his England team-mates and England fans.

November 13: Beckham reveals in Sunday newspaper that he will "probably" quit international football after the 2006 World Cup finals.

2005, March 30: Beckham stars and scores as England move closer to a World Cup place with a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan in a qualifier in Newcastle.

April 10 - Inspires Real to a 4-2 win over bitter rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu Stadium.

October 8 - Sent off after receiving his second yellow card in World Cup qualifying match against Austria.

November - Captains England for 50th time in friendly against Argentina in Geneva.

2006, June 25 - Scores winning goal in World Cup second-round match against Ecuador from free-kick.

July 1 - Substituted during England's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Portugal due to injury.

July 2 - Stands down as England captain.

August 11 - Dropped from squad for friendly against Greece, Steve McClaren's first match as manager.

August 17 - Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon reveals the Spanish giants are keen to tie Beckham to a new contract, declaring the former England captain a key part of the club's plans - and later insists the player should still be in the England team.

September 18 - Rules out a return to English football because he could not face lining up against Manchester United in the Premiership.

October 4 - Real Madrid sporting director Predrag Mijatovic insists the club will do "everything possible" to ensure Beckham signs a new contract with the club.

October 21 - Real coach Fabio Capello insists Beckham remains a valuable part of his squad despite the former England captain's limited playing time - something Beckham finds "frustrating".

October 28 - Tottenham boss Martin Jol admits he may consider a bid for Beckham, even though Calderon claims he is "almost certain" the Englishman will stay at the club beyond the end of the season.

November 6 - Beckham's ambition to finish his career in the USA could arrive sooner than expected after Los Angeles Galaxy confirm their interest in the former England captain.

November 8 - Capello claims Beckham suffered 'psychological difficulties' after being dropped by McClaren.

2007, January 9 - Mijatovic has warned Beckham the Spanish giants want to sort out his contract by next week.

January 10 - Beckham's contract at Real will not be renewed, according to Mijatovic.

January 11 - Beckham announces he will leave Real Madrid and join Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy on a five-year contract in August. The deal is believed to be worth £128million over the period.

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