All-star game a new experience for Beckham
The English star discussed MLS, his future with the English national team with CBC Sports and CBCSports.ca
David Beckham has served as captain of England, played in three World Cups, won league titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid, and lifted the Champions League trophy.
There isn't much Beckham hasn't done during his illustrious soccer career — except play in an all-star game.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder will finally experience what it's like to line up alongside the best players in the league when he takes to the field in Thursday's Major League Soccer all-star game in Toronto (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
All-star games are commonplace in North America, but they're not a part of European soccer culture, aside from the odd charity game or testimonial match.
So Thursday's all-star contest against English Premier League team West Ham United will be a first for Beckham, a game that he feels will showcase MLS to the rest of the world.
"I want to be involved in the league as much as possible and I think the all-star game is great. It's great for the league and it's great to play against a quality side like West Ham," Beckham told CBC Sports and CBCSports.ca in an exclusive interview Wednesday.
"I'm really looking forward to it," added the Englishman.
Beckham signed with the Galaxy in January 2007 but missed most of the 2007 MLS season due to injury.
He's made up for lost time this year, scoring five goals and tallying a league-leading seven assists, and has twice been named MLS player of the week. He's also the main reason the Galaxy are challenging for first place in MLS's Western Conference.
The assumption when he signed with L.A. was that Beckham would come to MLS and easily dominate the league. But the former Manchester United star maintains it hasn't been a cakewalk.
"I always get the question about the level of play in MLS and I keep saying that it's higher than everybody actually thinks. I've seen that first-hand this season," Beckham said.
Asked what he would change about MLS if made commissioner for a day, Beckham said he would sync the league's schedule with FIFA's international calendar. That way, international stars — himself included — wouldn't have to miss MLS games due to national team commitments.
"Obviously, that's an issue," admitted Beckham. "It's tough for MLS teams when they lose their international players. Hopefully that will change one day."
Beckham has made more than 100 appearances for England since making his national team debut in 1996, and pulling on the famous red and white English jersey is still one of the biggest thrills of his career.
"It's probably my biggest passion, playing for England," Beckham said. "I love to play soccer all over in the world, but playing for my country is one of the biggest honours that I've ever received. I want to keep on playing for England as long as possible."
On that subject matter, Beckham will be 35 by the time the 2010 World Cup rolls around. Conventional wisdom suggests he might be too old to play, assuming England qualifies for the tournament.
But Beckham hasn't given up on the idea of playing in his fourth World Cup.
"I've talked to the manager and he's said as long as I'm fit and on form that he will consider me for duty, so I'm not too worried about it," said the Galaxy midfielder.