David Beckham announced Monday that he will play his last game with the Los Angeles Galaxy when the team contends for the MLS Cup 2012 against the Houston Dynamo in Dec. 1.
The 37-year-old joined the Galaxy in 2007 after an illustrious career with Manchester United in the English Premier League, winning six league titles, and Real Madrid in Spain's La Liga, winning one league title with the team. Beckham was also captain of England's national team and made 115 appearances for the national team before retiring from international competition.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career,” said Beckham.
Beckham plans on becoming an owner of an MLS team.
Beckham's strength on the pitch aside, perhaps his greatest strength has been his brand. He has been the face of numerous advertising campaigns and has raked in millions from endorsements alone. Beckham and his wife Victoria Beckham, a member of the Spice Girls and a fashion designer, remain global celebrities after gaining fame in the mid 1990s.
Because of this crossover success, Beckham's signing with the Los Angeles was considered a bold move for the American soccer league. It not only boosted attendance, but helped the league gain more global interest.
The league has made substantial gains in recent years. There has been increased television exposure on ESPN and NBC Sports, and many experts point to an improved quality of play. In addition to an expanded league, 15 of the 19 MLS teams have soccer-dedicated stadiums of their own.
According to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, “David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the LA Galaxy and the League.”
The Galaxy won the MLS Cup 2011. There were rumors that Beckham planned to leave Los Angeles to play in France for Paris Saint-Germain or back to London to compete with Queens Park Rangers.
Chances are Beckham will be looking at a new business venture with the Galaxy rather than a new uniform. In a press statement, he said, "I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future."
Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy as well as several arenas including the Staples Center, said, “Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport, and David not only took our franchise to another level but he took our sport to another level.”