David Beckham is soccer's James Bond | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerDavid Beckham is soccer's James Bond

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 05:55 PM

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L.A. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has left a lasting legacy on MLS soccer. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images) L.A. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has left a lasting legacy on MLS soccer. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

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David Beckham is in some respects soccer's equivalent of James Bond. He has the looks, the talent, the lifestyle, the career ups and downs and the longevity to have left his mark. Love him or loathe him Beckham has been a force for good in North American soccer.
I have yet to see the new James Bond movie. I'm waiting until the hysteria subsides and the line- ups are shorter. Rest assured, though, it is on my 'to-do' list in the coming weeks.
 
Why? Not because I'm necessarily a fan of action or espionage films. But this is more than a movie. This is an event. After all this is Bond, and Bond is back.
 
This is a want not a need. I have no need to spend my hard-earned money at the movies when in a few months time I'll be able to rent and watch it at home for a fraction of the price. Now doesn't that make a whole lot of sense? Of course it does - but that's not what I want.
 
I want to be entertained. I want to be in a movie theatre surrounded by other like-minded individuals, cheering on our hero and booing the villain. I want to see this on the big screen with big sound as 007 flirts with disaster while managing to save the girl when all seems lost.
 
Because that's what we're going to get. It is not rocket science and we don't expect it to be. The Bond franchise has rewritten this screenplay dozens of times but we're still hooked. What we do expect is quality. 
 
The gadgets must be more ingenious, the stunts more dangerous, the baddies more ruthless and the women more glamorous. Ultimately, we want to say we have seen the Bond movie. 
 
In that respect David Beckham is soccer's equivalent of Bond. 
 
He has the looks, the talent, the lifestyle, the career ups and downs and the longevity to have left his mark. Like Bond he bounces back from adversity and like Bond he moves the needle. Love him or loathe him (and there are plenty of loathers out there) Beckham has been a force for good in North American soccer.

Glory days
 
Not since the days of Pele has a single player made a bigger difference to the landscape. The Brazilian legend pushed the old NASL into the stratosphere but ultimately the league burned out and came crashing back down to earth. The glory days were over and professional soccer was, once again, consigned to obscurity.
 
Thirty years after Pele's retirement, Beckham touched down. He could have picked his club and gone anywhere in Europe. Just a year after captaining his country at the World Cup, the sport's most recognizable and marketable commodity raised millions of eyebrows by choosing to join Major League Soccer.
 
The league got what it paid for. Aided and abetted by AEG's financial muscle it had purchased a real soccer superstar whose celebrity status outstripped the sport which made him famous. It created a new rule to keep the bean counters happy. Beckham became the first Designated Player in MLS - a huge departure for the hitherto fiscally pragmatic organization. 
 
More importantly MLS had also purchased credibility. Beckham's arrival brought a new level of awareness to a league which had previously struggled for the attention it craved. Soccer was back on the agenda, forcing itself into the psyche of lukewarm soccer fans now clamouring for tickets and merchandise. An opportunity to see Beckham play in your home stadium was not to be missed.
 
Over time the novelty began to wear thin. That's just human nature. Once you've seen your favourite artist in concert you can strike it from the bucket list. You might go a second or third time but eventually you'll find other things to spend your money on.
 
Beckham may not draw the crowds like he once did, but his legacy will endure. Designated Players are now very much the norm for MLS franchises across the map. Individually they bring a higher skill set to their teams while younger players can learn from them and, in turn, become better players themselves. 

Claiming the crown
 
Sooner or later MLS will produce a homegrown DP. We all know Landon Donovan has already claimed the crown but in my book he doesn't count. Any player with his ability who chooses not to test himself over an extended period in one of the world's premier leagues has left question marks against his career.
 
In another 20 years, assuming the world is still spinning and MLS is still standing, we'll be able to reminisce about the good old days when we saw David Beckham in our city and playing in our stadium. And we'll be able to joke about that old DP rule which only allowed three players per team to earn the really big bucks. 
 
By 2032, North American soccer should be booming. The U.S. will have hosted another World Cup, domestic television rights will be reassuringly expensive and MLS will have become a global destination for players seeking a new challenge and lifestyle in their prime.
 
By then David Beckham will be in his 50's. Not that it seems to bother James Bond. Fifty years after Dr. No, his legacy is still packing them in.

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