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The Spanish secretly love Beckham too

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David Beckham was roundly booed when he was booked for dissent in Seville on Wednesday but most of the local fans had their tongues firmly in their cheeks given there is a good deal of affection in Spain for the former Real Madrid midfielder.

His feat in equalling Bobby Moore’s England outfield appearance record of 108 is impressive to the Spanish, whose most-capped non-goalkeeper is Beckham’s former Real colleague Raul with 102, followed by Fernando Hierro on 89.

“Beckham is a real gentleman and definitely one of England’s all-time greats,” said Manuel Conde, 27, an unemployed Real fan from Cordoba.

“He always gives everything in the matches and he’s the complete player. It would have been better if he’d stayed in Madrid,” he added.

from Left field:

Sports picture of the day: David Beckham

SOCCER-SPAIN/

To celebrate the launch of the new sports blog we're reviving a feature from View from the Bird's Nest and posting a picture of the day from the Reuters file.

Sports Pictures Editor Greg Bos has chosen the first pic, a shot of David Beckham from Spanish photographer Marcelo del Pozo. Over to Greg...

Beckham deserves to stand alongside Moore

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A great many people, most of whom never saw Bobby Moore play, have decided that it is an insult to his memory that David Beckham will equal his outfield record of 108 England caps if he plays against Spain on Wednesday.

But if Moore , who died in 1993, had been around today you can be sure he would have been the first to sincerely congratulate a fellow gentleman of the game. The Golden-locked hero of 1966 would have recognised much of himself in Goldenballs.

Beckham chooses Milan

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David Beckham has surprised the many doubters among fans and pundits by scoring two goals in five starts for AC Milan and it looks increasingly likely he’ll be hanging around Serie A for a lot longer.

All in all, it’s turned into a very happy move for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder 

Can Beckham’s Milan love affair last?

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, AC Milan have fallen in love with David Beckham and it seems the attraction is mutual.

 ”Our wish is that he continues with us,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said after Beckham had scored his first Milan goal in Sunday’s 4-1 win at Bologna. “Beckham knows what our wish is.”

Beckham takes Serie A switch in his stride

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David Beckham was in a chirpy mood after making his Serie A debut as a surprise starter in AC Milan’s 2-2 draw at AS Roma on Sunday.

“I thought it was great, I enjoyed it immensely,” the grinning England midfielder told the reporters stretching and scrambling to get their Dictaphones near him in the Stadio Olimpico’s Mixed Zone.

Beckham takes first 38 touches for Milan

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David Beckham’s first appearance for AC Milan was analysed in such detail by the Italian press that we know he made 38 touches of the ball.

He only played the first half of the friendly in Dubai against Hamburg and was steady rather than spectacular. An error in the defensive third has been highlighted by pundits but generally they thought his two crosses, two headers and two tackles showed promise.

Beckham effect? What Beckham effect?

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Reuters reporter Ben Klayman takes a look at the just finished Major League Soccer season, from a business perspective, and finds that the much-anticipated ‘Beckham bounce’ doesn’t seem to have happened. He writes:

Two years after David Beckham joined the league, Major League Soccer is facing many headwinds in addition to the declining economy as it attempts to establish itself as a major player on the sports landscape.While Beckham’s signing in 2007 helped boost the league’s public awareness and put more fans in the seats, television ratings for the young league remain stagnant and some analysts said the MLS will never be more than a minor player behind football, baseball and basketball.

There are few teams making money yet out of the MLS (although the same could be said of most clubs in debt-ridden European leagues) but, as Ben notes, there are plenty of investors still wanting a piece of the action:

Enough people believe in the MLS that seven bidders hope to be one of the 2011 expansion teams, including groups with the owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta team, a partnership that includes the Barcelona soccer club and the owner of the National Hockey League team in Montreal.

Friday afternoon question: Who’s the best free kick taker?

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The above question came up in Mark’s blog about Del Piero (see below) and it stuck in my mind after my colleague Andre Assier interviewed Juninho this week.

Here’s an extract from Andre’s piece, which you can read in full here:

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