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David Beckham Is a Statue: LA Galaxy Enshrine Their Biggest Star

4:04 AM PST on March 5, 2019

David Beckham statue.

[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]avid Beckham returned to Los Angeles this past weekend to add another trophy to his extensive collection. However, this is one award he won’t be able to take home as the LA Galaxy honored its former star player with a large statue of his likeness. His is the first to grace the newly christened Legends Plaza located at Dignity Health Sports Park’s main entrance.

“This city has always felt like home to me,” said Beckham, flanked by members of Dignity Health, AEG, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, Rob Stone of FOX Sports, former teammates Chris Klein and Robbie Keane, and former Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.

The moment the statue was revealed. All photos by Ivan Fernandez.

The statue, which was designed and built by Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, depicts Beckham halfway through the motion of one of his infamous and lethal shots from a free-kick with his right foot. That right foot is one of many reasons why he’s beloved worldwide as a champion and world-class athlete with the English national team, numerous European clubs, and the LA Galaxy.

“My biggest thanks is to you guys...the fans. It wasn’t always easy, I know, and for that, I apologize,” continued Beckham, summarizing his six years in L.A. that began with an injured, foot. His career here ultimately ended successfully as he led the franchise to back-to-back league titles in his final two years with the Galaxy.

RELATED: Who Are the ‘Real L.A.’ Soccer Fans? ~ A Look At the Growing Rivalry of Galaxy vs. LAFC

On the Wrong Foot

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]eckham had changed soccer in the U.S. before ever stepping foot in the country. Garber and MLS changed the league’s roster rules and salary cap with the creation of the “Designated Player” spot. The spot, nicknamed the “Beckham Rule,” allows team’s to break the salary cap under certain conditions in order to sign high-profile and insanely expensive players such as Beckham. The league has since increased the number of DP spots to three and MLS teams have signed numerous world-class athletes since then with Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic the latest on that list.

Beckham arrived in L.A. in July 2007 with an injured ankle that marred his debut in a friendly match between the Galaxy and English club Chelsea. He recovered in early August only to miss out on the rest of the season after injuring his right knee in the SuperLiga final versus Mexican club Pachuca at the end of the month.

“Initially, [it was] difficult because he wasn’t playing so well and the fans weren’t taken to him,” said Margie Bañuelos, a member of supporter group The Galaxians and a Galaxy fan since 1996. “For us fans, it was hard to see him and our team wasn’t producing.”

Making matters worse, Beckham returned to Europe to play for Italian club AC Milan on loan in early 2009 that extended through the first four months of the MLS season, a decision that angered many Galaxy fans. On one occasion, the star athlete almost came to blows with a fan after being heckled during an exhibition game against none other than AC Milan.

RELATED: Before the L.A. Galaxy, Chivas USA, or LAFC, We Had the Los Angeles Aztecs

He returned to AC Milan on loan yet again in early 2010 but tore his left Achilles tendon, which ruled him out of the World Cup in South Africa that summer. He returned to the soccer pitch and the Galaxy in September, two months short of the end of the MLS season.

“From what I’ve seen, people didn’t really like him at some point,” said fan Roberto Campos. “Initially, they weren’t accepting of him but he did show that he was worth it.”

That disdain for Beckham stemmed not only from his repeated injuries and loan spells overseas but also for the fact that the Galaxy failed to make the league playoffs on two occasions between 2007 and 2009.

Beckham returned in 2010 in time to help the Galaxy win the MLS Supporter’s Shield. He would then have his two best years with the Galaxy as he and his teammates won the 2011 and 2012 MLS titles, both times against the Houston Dynamo.

Legacy of Stars

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen it comes to the Galaxy, the deck is stacked with domestic and foreign players who meet the criteria for the same honor including Jorge Campos, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Landon Donovan, and Keane. Fans such as Kyle Scobble believe there’s a conversation that should’ve been held on whether Beckham should have been the first to receive a statue.

“I think the Galaxy’s role in American soccer puts them in a unique position to put Donovan first that would’ve been particularly special,” explained Scobble. “But to ignore Beckham’s obvious star power and the fact that he’s an icon – it’s hard to not do him first.

David Beckham speaks to the crowd.

“To be able to see a world icon playing in the U.S. was something special,” Scobble continued. “Everyone knew who David Beckham was and you couldn’t say that about many players in MLS at that time. There was real star power behind him. You could feel it in the air. Everyone was there to watch him.”

The Beckham era may have started ugly but it ended beautifully. It marked a time that changed the league permanently. That era is now enshrined with a statue.

“We have the players who we have now and our league has gotten up to a different level because of him,” said Bañuelos. “So I think he deserves the recognition. He wasn’t just a talent, he was a personality.”

RELATED: Exclusive: A First Look at LAFC's New Away Jersey for the 2019 MLS Season

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