Despite deep scepticism over his motives, the message prevailed that he is eager to increase the profile of soccer in the US, and that the £128m he stands to make has absolutely nothing to do with it.
‘Beckham answering an evangelical calling,’ noted the on-message Sunday Telegraph (14 Jan). ‘The presence of such an iconic footballer will inspire Americans to get involved,’ said The Guardian (11 Jan).
But Beckham critics had a field day. ‘End it like Beckham’ (The Guardian, 14 Jan); ‘Outcast’ (Sunday Mirror, 14 Jan); ‘Clifford warns Beckham against US move’ (Daily Mail, 12 January). Commentators doubted his ability to turn Americans into soccer lovers, saying the move was a step into semi-retirement.
‘They are perfect icons for our age – deeply shallow, inarticulate but totally enthralling’ (Independent on Sunday, 14 Jan).
Goldenballs will now have to prove he can shine as brightly in Tinseltown as he once did at Old Trafford.