Beckham, streaker cheered in Vancouver

Fans saw much more than David Beckham when a streaker interrupted Wednesday's soccer friendly between the L.A. Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps.

Soccer fans got to see much more than David Beckham, when a streaker interrupted Wednesday's friendly between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place.

Wednesday's friendly was halted for several minutes by a fleet-footed male streaker. ((Gloria Leung/CBC))

Beckham, the highest-paid soccer player in the world, laughed along with the crowd of 48,172 when a naked man jumped onto the pitch in the second half.

With the crowd cheering him on, he scurried about until tackled and dragged away by security personnel.

Beckham and a teammate were seen chortling over the incident, which briefly halted the match.

"I have seen it before," Beckham said. "We've had it a few times in Europe [and] you try and run the other way."

Beckham committed to playing at least 45 minutes, but played 72 minutes in the 0-0 draw and was cheered every time he touched the ball, even though he failed to register a shot.

"I was meant to play only half the game, but I felt stronger and stronger as the first half went on and wanted to play a little longer," Beckham said. "Then, it was time for me to come off and give other players a chance to have a run around."

David Beckham winds up for a kick in Wednesday's friendly at B.C. Place. ((Sam Leung/Canadian Press))

Beckham delighted fans by taking a few corner kicks and free kicks — his specialty.

"Shame there wasn't any goals," Beckham said. "Hope they enjoyed it, with the streaker and other things.

"It's unfortunate when there are draws like this. People want to see goals, but I think both teams cancelled each other out."

"It's nice to play against a player like that once in a lifetime," said Whitecaps midfielder Martin Nash, the younger brother of Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash.

"He has got an amazing touch and great feel for the ball and great vision. He has small movements to make himself available."

Record-setting contract

Beckham, who rose to stardom with Manchester United and Real Madrid, and even captained England, shocked the soccer community when he signed a record-breaking, five-year contract with the Galaxy on Jan. 11.

He is earning $32.5 million US in salary but, combining profit sharing and endorsements, will pocket $250 million US over the life of the deal — the richest in soccer history.

"I have never played soccer for the money," Beckham said. "People say it is easy for you to say because you've got the money.

"To be honest, it has never been important to me. The game is important to me — I would play for free."

Beckham hopes to raise the profile of soccer in North America, but a nagging ankle injury limited him to a handful of matches and the Galaxy failed to qualify for the Major League Soccer playoffs.

"I arrived injured," he said. "I worked hard to get myself fit, then got injured again.

"It's always frustrating for any sportsman when you cannot do what you love doing."

With files from the Canadian Press