In 2007, David Beckham, the golden boy of soccer, shocked the international sports world when he signed a five-year contract with an American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Under the direction of his manager, Simon Fuller, the mastermind behind American Idol and the Spice Girls, Beckham was ready for a monumental challenge and a risky adventure–ready, as Fuller put it, to earn his stripes Stateside. Could he pull off what no player had ever accomplished (including Pelé in the 1970s) and transform soccer into one of the most popular spectator sports in America? It was a bold experiment: failure meant a team, a league, a sport, and Beckham himself might miss their chance to hit primetime in the U.S.
With unprecedented access to the Galaxy and one-on-one interviews with Beckham, veteran Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl focuses on the inner circle of the experiment: Beckham, Galaxy leading scorer Landon Donovan, Simon Fuller, controversial former coach Ruud Gullit, outspoken former Galaxy president Alexi Lalas, and Mrs. Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. Wahl takes readers behind the scenes, on the road with the team and inside the locker room, to reveal just what happened on and off the field when the most renowned player in the world left the glamour of European soccer to play in a country that has yet to fully embrace the sport. We find out what his teammates really think of their superstar captain, who was calling the shots behind the scenes, how Beckham’s management conducted a shadow takeover of the Galaxy organization, and if the team plans to embrace him–or not–when he returns from AC Milan for the 2009 season.
The Beckham Experiment is a no-holds-barred account of ego clashes and epic winless streaks, rivalries and resentments, big gambles and great expectations, cultural and class collisions, and ultimately the volatile mix of celebrity and professional sports. As Beckham embarks on his third season with the Galaxy, the question remains: even for a player the caliber of David Beckham, are some goals out of reach?
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Beckham Experiment|
|Release Date: 07-14-2009|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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The Beckham Experiment
THE BECKHAM EXPERIMENT
In the summer of 2005, on a gorgeous morning in Marina del Rey, California, I bumped into an old acquaintance in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. In almost any other city in any other country, David Beckham would never have dared to tempt the paparazzi and swarming fans who track his every move. But here he was, hands in his pockets, comfortable, unbothered, just like any other bloke. It had been two years since our last meeting, a long and candid interview in New York City just before Beckham’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid–the world’s biggest sports story of 2003. Now Real was in town for a preseason exhibition game against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham and I said hello, caught up with each other, and (not for the first time) talked about his desire to play in America someday. He sounded earnest, but I figured that day was six or seven years away, when Beckham would be a spent force on the European scene.
Less than two years later, in May 2007, I found myself sitting across from Beckham in Madrid, just the two of us in a quiet makeup room for an hour. On a rainy day in the Spanish capital, he had arrived at the studio by himself, an entourage of one in an outfit bearing no logos. In his
plain white V-neck T-shirt, ordinary blue jeans, and five-year-old brown work boots, he could have passed for a cattle hand in Kalispell. In his only interview with a U.S. sports journalist before he joined the Galaxy that July, Beckham explained why he had shocked the sports world four months earlier by signing at age thirty-one with a team in Major League Soccer, the eleven-year-old U.S. soccer circuit.
“When I’d spoke...