With Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup playoffs, another loan deal with AC Milan expected to follow and a fourth World Cup on the horizon, David Beckham's future appears rosy, even at age 34.
By helping the Galaxy reach the playoffs for the first time in four years, he has won over many of the critics who turned on him when he went on loan to Milan the first time.
By returning to the Italian club for another spell he will keep England coach Fabio Capello happy that he is playing in a higher standard of football as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa nears.
By saying he might then return to the Galaxy after the World Cup, it shows he means to honour his five-year contract to MLS.
If it all works out, Beckham could go to Milan as a championship winner in MLS, turn around the Italian's club's dismal season, and then help England win its first title since the 1966 World Cup.
More likely, this could be David Beckham the diplomat, keeping everyone sweet in the knowledge that his playing career is surely coming to an end in two years or so.
"I'll finish when I feel my legs can't take any more, then I'll start enjoying family life," he said on Sunday. "I want to play as long as possible. I have two years left on the Galaxy contract and then, who knows?"
More immediately, Beckham is putting on his England shirt, flying into the country from Los Angeles ahead of two more World Cup qualifying games against Ukraine on Saturday and Belarus the following Wednesday.
What makes it even better for Beckham is that England has already qualified for the World Cup with two games to spare after winning its first eight group matches. There is no pressure on the team to win these games and Capello can tell his players to play with freedom and style.
If there is a down side to Beckham's world right now, it's the fact that he must now realize that the days of him being a regular starter for England are long gone.
Capello now has faster, younger, genuine right wingers in Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon and, although they don't have Beckham's amazing ability to bend free kicks into the net, they are more use to the manager with their pace and ability to get behind defenders.
That means the man who made 50 of his 114 England appearances as captain is likely to spend long spells on the bench as he edges towards the national record of 125 held by goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
"Now everyone talks about the record and I'd be a liar if I didn't say I'd love to reach it," Beckham said. "But to be where I am and still playing for England at 34 is amazing.
"I never expected to reach 100 appearances for England. I know there are critics out there who ask if I should be given a cap for 15 minutes of football (as a substitute). But I've started 100 games out of the 114."
Right now he would probably walk into the starting lineup at Milan.
Beckham is expected to return to San Siro once his season is over with the Galaxy and Milan's current poor form suggests the Serie A club needs him. A 1-0 loss at home to FC Zurich in the Europa League was followed on Sunday by a tame 1-1 draw at home to Atalanta which left the seven-time European champion 12th in the 20 club standings.
If he moves to Milan for his second spell, Beckham will probably stay there until the end of the season and then comes the buildup to the World Cup.
"That deal I think hasn't been fully finalised yet but I know he is interested in going to Milan and he's in conversation with the LA Galaxy about doing a loan again and discussing coming back," said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
"David has been an important part of the history of Major League Soccer and we'd love to have him continue his commitment to the league."
That return would be in late 2010 with Beckham then dragging 35-year-old legs around the football field without much of a break - MLS to Serie A to the World Cup in South Africa and back to the US.
It's a globe-trotting career Beckham never expected when he began his career as a 17-year-old with Manchester United, never expecting to leave Old Trafford.
Now in his mid-30s, his goal is keeping three teams happy at the same time.Reuse content