Sky Sports Laura Woods was in Miami as David Beckham announced his MLS franchise. She looks back at the fanfare surrounding the latest phase of Beckham’s amazing career.
It started with a phone call. Was I available to fly to Miami to interview David Beckham? On the day he launches his long-awaited MLS franchise in Miami? Er…yes!
We arrived in Miami on Sunday night and then on Monday morning were first in line for time with the man himself.
He came into the interview room followed by his six-strong entourage, a camera crew of his own and his son Brooklyn by his side.
David had a new haircut. Just in case he hadn’t realised, I helpfully piped up with ‘Nice haircut, David’, which I immediately regretted.
Happily, he immediately replied with a grin, saying: “Thanks, I needed it!” Phew…
Beckham’s MLS franchise venture has been in the pipeline since he signed for LA Galaxy back in 2007. He would later describe the process as having a few “bumps in the road”, but it is a project he and his ownership team nearly gave up on several times.
Stars from around the world have sent their wishes to David Beckham and his new Miami MLS franchise in a welcome video.
As we began the interview, it was evident how incredibly proud he was the day had finally come.
We discussed many things, including their targeted start date of 2020, attracting big stars, nurturing home-grown talent in Miami and competing to be the best in a league that has seen a 43% increase in attendance and has almost doubled in size since 2006.
The conversation moved on to the Premier League and a certain Alexis Sanchez donning the iconic No.7 shirt at Manchester United. Beckham described the transfer as ‘astonishing’, but it’s one he believes will strengthen United.
David Beckham admits he did not expect Alexis Sanchez to move from Arsenal to Manchester United.
The questions continued. Would he like to see his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic sign for LA Galaxy? No, he’d like him to stay at Manchester United, the team he loves! But he admitted Zlatan’s presence in the MLS would only increase its appeal.
And that was it – our seven minute slot was over. We made our way to the auditorium for the official announcement, which was as American as it gets. A corner of the packed theatre was filled with the Southern Legion – the official fan group of MLS Miami – who were in full voice singing a mixture of football and WWE style chants.
David Beckham believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic would add to the success of the MLS after his Miami franchise was approved.
Then the MC welcomed to the stage six of the eight members of Miami Beckham United (Beckham’s Ownership Group), the two Miami mayors and MLS commissioner Don Garber.
As mayor Carlos Giminez rang out the words “David Beckham, welcome to Miami”, the auditorium went crazy. A confetti cannon assault followed and then probably the coolest compilation video ever created was played on the big screens, with well wishes from the likes of Usain Bolt, Neymar, Serena Williams, Jay Z, JLo, the Beckham family and DJ Khaled.
It was Beckham himself who rounded things off, saying: “Miami is a city built on dreams, thank you for making my dream come true.”
The Southern Legion replied with a chorus of “Thank you, Beckham”, to the style of the WWE chant “This is awesome”. It’s impossible to overestimate how much Miami loves him.
There are still many details to finalise. What will the team be called? What will their logo and their club colours be? And, perhaps the most controversial, where will their stadium be? Marcelo Claure, one of the ownership team, summed it up: “Now the hard work begins.”
If Miami Beckham United have their way, it will be a team deeply connected to the community with an academy aimed at unearthing and nurturing home grown talent, as well as one that attracts some of the game’s biggest superstars and that competes with the best there is.
One thing is for sure, the world will be watching.