Beckham Quits LA Galaxy

On Tuesday, David Beckham announced he will quit LA Galaxy.

After six eventful years with the MLS outfit, the former England captain, 37, has announced his last game will be next Saturday, December 1st in the Major League Soccer Cup.

Despite an option in his contract signed in January to stay for one more season, Beckham has opted to part ways with the club, although he refuses to close the door on a return to Major League Soccer in the future.

Golden Balls’ original contract included a clause granting him involvement in owning an MLS expansion team at a later date.

He admitted, “I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.”

The dead-ball specialist has set the wheels of vicious rumour in motion by declaring, “I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career.”

Only last week, Football Federation Australia claimed Beckham’s agent had approached them regarding the possibility of a short spell in A-league. The Beckham camp may have labelled this as pure speculation, but there appears to be very few alternatives.

Having signed for Manchester United as a trainee in 1991, he went on to make 398 appearances for the senior team, claiming 6 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Cups, 1 FA Youth Cup 4 Community Shields and 1 Intercontinental Cup.

His 4 years at Real Madrid from 2003 to 2007, saw him lift the La Liga title and he has completed two successful loan spells at AC Milan, despite tearing his Achillies the second time round, which prevented him from taking part in the 2010 World Cup.

Beckham captained England from 2000 to 2006, making 115 appearances and most famously, (apart from ‘that’ sending off against Argentina in 1998), he scored a trademark free-kick in the dying seconds against Greece at Old Trafford to single-handedly grant his country qualification to the 2002 World Cup.

As throughout his whole career, at LA Galaxy there have been high and lows, with the superstar receiving criticism from fans questioning his commitment to the team in his first few seasons. However, Beckham’s reputation has since been restored, being voted as the league’s best player by fans and helping the Galaxy capture their third MLS Cup title last year.

With the A-League expanding rapidly and attracting former top class players in the latter stages of their career such as Alessandro Del Piero and dare I say it, Emile Heskey, who has in fact outshone the Italian in recent weeks, it would appear Australia is the only possible destination for the once most hated man in football, who now turns every ball he touches into gold.

Skeptics will claim Beckham’s lust for fame and fortune is the motivating factor behind one last big publicity stunt before he retires. Football fans, however, will be delighted that the man who has given so much to the beautiful game is not hanging up his boots just yet. In a sport that breeds so many ill-mannered reprobates in the modern day, we will be afforded one final opportunity to witness a true gentlemen of the footballing world.

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought


Was Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s goal the greatest ever?

Five Famous Football Fightbacks

On Saturday, an 87th minute Javier Hernandez header sparked scenes of elation for Manchester United and their 3,000-strong travelling support at Villa Park, as the visitors clawed back a two-goal deficit to defeat Aston Villa 3-2.

The Mexican took his tally to seven goals in his last five appearances, clinically converting either side of a Ron Vlaar own goal, that Hernandez himself forced upon the Dutch centre-back. Andreas Weimann’s double sandwiching half-time, gave Villa a surprise, two-goal cushion, but with 40 minutes still remaining, United were far from dead and buried.

A twenty-minute attacking frenzy, in which Robin Van Persie, who failed to score for once, hit the woodwork twice, saw the visitors complete yet another soul-destroying comeback with seconds to spare. This result moved the Red Devils four points clear of second place Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League and to those less knowledgeable in footballing matters, this performance may have appeared extraordinary.

But, for those of us in the know, it was nothing of the sort. There was nothing extra to this display by the comeback kings that we haven’t seen on so many occasions previously.

This season alone, United have comeback from losing positions to defeat Premier League opposition five times, claiming 15 points from otherwise profitless scenarios. Manchester United have come from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat so often during Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious managerial career, proving that his never-say-die attitude has transformed the very ethos of the club.

With so many wonderful examples to choose from and after some serious consideration, Sport 4 Thought brings you Manchester United’s Five Greatest Comebacks of all-time:

5. Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 5 Manchester United (Premier League 2001/02)

With first-half goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege, the White Hart Lane faithful could barely believe their eyes as they trudged off at the break 3-0 up against United. Cue hairdryer. The visiting side that emerged for the second-half was totally rejuvenated. An early 46th minute header from Andy Cole was the start of the end for Spurs who then conceded a further four goals to four more scorers in Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Veron and David Beckham. The Spurs fans looked equally stunned at the full-time whistle.

4. Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United (Premier League 1993/94)

Following two headed goals in the first half from the big Niall Quinn, Maine Road was a bubbling cauldron of joy, the blue half of Manchester ecstatic with their lead over their local neighbours. However, with Eric Cantona on the pitch, nothing was ever certain and two goals from the flamboyant Frenchman were capped off with an 86th minute, back-post finish from Roy Keane to propel United to a second successive Premier League title.

3. Manchester United 2 – 1 Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League 1992/93)

A 65th minute John Sheridan penalty shook the home team who were desperate for victory to keep their title bid alive. Staring down the barrels of defeat, unlikely hero Steve Bruce fired home not one, but two headers in the 86th and 90th minutes. These goals sparked the infamous Brian Kidd on-pitch, jumping jack celebration and more importantly, helped United to their first league title since 1967. This was the catalyst for success on a grand scale, that has seen the Premier League title return to Old Trafford 12 times from a possible 20.

2. Juventus 2 – 3 Manchester United (Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg 1999)

Following a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, United were in for an uphill struggle against a formidable Juventus side in Turin. With Ryan Giggs declared unfit to play, things went from bad to worse when the home side scored twice inside the opening ten minutes through a Filippo Inzaghi brace. But the visitors refused to take defeat lying down and captain Roy Keane headed home after 24 minutes, with Dwight Yorke equalising before the break. Andy Cole completed the historic comeback, scoring the winner in the 85th minute, sending United through to their first European Cup Final in 31 years.

1. Manchester United 2 – 1 Bayern Munich (Champions League Final 1999)

Missing key midfield duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through suspension, United’s hopes of success were dealt a huge blow when a Mario Basler free-kick found the back of Peter Schmeichel’s net after just 6 minutes. With the game all but over, a last gasp corner enabled Teddy Sheringham to convert in the 91st minute to bring the scores level in a dramatic climax. Then the unthinkable. In the 93rd minute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found the net from close range to send the players and fans into raptures. The day of the final would have marked the 90th birthday of legend Sir Matt Busby, the only other manager to have won the European Cup with Manchester United, in 1968. The king of all comebacks, left Sir Alex Ferguson with only this to say…”Football, bloody hell!”

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought

USA: The Land Of The Freeland

As a 16-year old, Joel Freeland was a gangly English boy from Farnham, Surrey, who stacked shelves in Sainsbury’s and daydreamed about the special offers his future had in store. Unbeknown to him, less than a decade later, he would be signing a multi-million pound contract to play in the world’s most elite league of a sport he had never played.

Now, 25 years old and standing at 6ft 10in, Freeland is the new face of NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, having signed a 3 year, £6M contract in the summer, beginning the latest chapter in his truly remarkable story, which saw Portland defeat the star studded LA Lakers, (boasting the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol), in the opening game of the season on Wednesday.

Freeland turned to basketball when urged to find a new hobby after breaking his leg playing football. Within a year, he represented England Under-18’s and was soon playing in Spain, home to the world’s second most prestigious basketball league.

In 2006, the youngster was drafted by Portland and became the highest ranked Brit in the history of the draft as the 30th overall pick, though the Blazers advised him to remain in Europe to develop his game and he swiftly transferred from Gran Canaria to one of Spain’s superior teams, Unicaja Malaga.

The London 2012 Olympics saw Freeland represent Great Britain, an experience he believes can only aid his development as a player. “It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I’m learning every day. The Olympic Games gave me a better insight into how it’s going to be.”

The rookie has settled quickly in Portland. “I love this city. It’s been great so far. I’m enjoying every minute of it.” Whilst others speculate about the dizzy heights he may reach, Freeland prevents his mind from travelling, keeping his feet firmly grounded. “I’ve been given the opportunity to play in the best league in the world and it’s something I’m going to take full advantage of.”

Portland’s new boy is under no illusions regarding the mountain he still has to climb. “It has been a little bit tough, because it’s a different game to what it is in Europe, but I knew it was going to take time. The speed of the game, the strength of the game, everything’s completely different, so that’s something I’m going to have to adjust to.”

Joel Freeland’s supermarket days feel like “a long time ago” and he will hope the only stacking up he does in the future will be of points and trophies. If this incredible fairytale goes to plan, the next aisle he trundles down may just be laid with red carpet.

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought

English Premier League All-Time Table (1992 – Present)

Position Team P W D L GD PTS
1 Man United 782 508 163 111 +893 1687
2 Arsenal 782 419 207 156 +635 1464
3 Chelsea 782 408 201 173 +553 1425
4 Liverpool 781 382 198 201 +481 1344
5 Tottenham 782 299 206 277 +55 1103
6 Aston Villa 782 285 243 254 +44 1098
7 Everton 782 274 223 283 +1 1051
8 Newcastle 701 280 190 231 +109 1030
9 Blackburn 696 262 184 250 +20 970
10 Man City 592 217 155 220 +44 806
11 West Ham 626 206 161 259 -155 779
12 Leeds United 468 189 125 154 +68 692
13 Middlesbrough 536 160 156 220 -120 633
14 Southampton 515 151 138 226 -152 591
15 Bolton 494 149 128 217 -170 575
16 Fulham 428 134 124 170 -67 526
17 Sunderland 427 113 110 204 -187 449
18 Coventry City 354 99 112 143 -103 409
19 Sheffield Wed 316 101 89 126 -44 392
20 Wimbledon 316 99 94 123 -88 391

P = Played  W = Won  D = Drawn  L = Lost  GD = Goal Difference  PTS = Points

Sport 4 Thought