File photo of England's Beckham receiving his 100th cap from Charlton in London

Emotional Beckham: “Now is the time to retire”

1 Comment

After announcing his retirement this afternoon, the soccer world is reflecting on David Beckham’s decision to stop playing the beautiful game.

So who better to hear from…than the man himself.

In an exclusive interview with British broadcasters, Beckham sat down in his Paris hotel room this afternoon to chat with former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville — who also happens to be one of his closest friends — to discuss his entire career.

First up, why now?

“I think over the years when I’ve seen players retire when you ask them about it, they say ‘you will know when you’re ready.’ And I think I am ready,” Beckham said. “Obviously it is a difficult decisions. Because I still feel that I can play at the top level, and I still have done for the last six months. But I always secretly said to myself that I want to go out at the top. If you had said to me eight months ago that I would be playing in the French League and winning the French League I would have probably said absolutely no chance. But I was given the opportunity to come to PSG. And I just feel now is the time.”

(More: Who had the bigger impact on U.S. soccer, Beckham or Pele?)

Beckham repeatedly said “I think this is the right time,” in the interview with Sky Sports, so Neville pushed him and asked “Do you think or do you know this is the right time to retire?”

“I think. I love the game so much. I just feel that. I don’t know. It is the right time. I believe it is the right time. But I always feel like I can do more, that’s the problem,” Beckham laughed.

Then Beckham revealed the moment when he realized he should retire.

“I think it came when I saw Messi running past me when we played Barcelona! I don’t know. I have been so lucky throughout my career. The fact that I have played for the clubs that I have played for, with the players I have played with, won the trophies that I’ve won. Playing in MLS last year winning the championship their and then coming to PSG and winning the French league here, I think it is a good way to go out.”

(More: Beckham’s Most memorable moments on the world stage)

Of course Beckham has always gone out on top, wherever he has been. He has won trophies in his final games for United, Real Madrid, LA and now PSG. So, yeah, might as well go out on top, Becks.

“It is every athlete’s dream, every footballers dream to go out on the top form or winning a trophy,” Beckham said. “It doesn’t happen that often. I’ve been lucky. It’s written. It’s simple, your leaving as a champion. I think that’s why I am going out at the right time.”

(More: Beckham’s five most memorable moments in U.S. soccer)

Beckham then touched on his legacy, what he wanted to be remembered as and he spoke of his annoyance that sometimes people forgot what he does on the pitch and instead focus on his off-field activities.

“I just want people to see me as a hard-working footballer. As someone that is passionate about the game and someone that every time I’ve stepped on the pitch I’ve given everything I have. That’s how I look back on it and hope people will see me,” Beckham said. “Over the years of my life and my career, people have looked at certain other things that have gone on throughout my career and I think sometimes that has overshadowed what I have done on the pitch or achieved on the pitch. As much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does. At the end of the day I am a footballer who has achieved almost everything in football, of course it hurts when people, not question you, but think about other things.”

Finally the 38-year-old midfielder, who has become the most recognizable soccer star on the planet during his sparkling career, summed up the end of his playing days with a tear in his eye and a wry smile.

“To come to the end of my career now and look back and say I’ve achieved everything with every club that I’ve played for. Played for my country 100 times, been runner-up twice for world player of the year to two amazing footballers, I am very proud of that.”

PHOTOS: The life and times of Beckham

Gabriel Jesus available to make Man City debut

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 27:  Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras celebrates with the trophy after winning the match between Palmeiras and Chapecoense for the Brazilian Series A 2016 at Allianz Parque on November 27, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City have confirmed that new striker Gabriel Jesus is available to play against Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: United need Griezmann

Jesus, 19, agreed to move from Palmerias in the summer for $35 million but remained with the Brazilian side for the rest of their season as he was their to scorer en route to them winning the league title.

After a few weeks training at City he is now registered in the squad and ready to feature for Pep Guardiola‘s side to help them claw back the 10-point gap between themselves and current Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Jesus scored 28 goals in 85 games in all competitions for Palmerias and has shown great promise for the Brazilian national team, scoring four goals in his first six appearances for the Selecao in 2016.

Speaking about his arrival at City, Jesus is looking to hit the ground running.

“I want to win titles and Manchester City is a club that is used to winning,” Jesus said. “City is a Club that always competes for the title in the competitions it enters, so that was an important factor, and because of the manager, Guardiola, and the squad.”

Jesus has arrived at the perfect time to give an ailing City side a boost.

On the back of their 4-0 drubbing at Everton last weekend (City’s worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever in the league as a manager) they need to beat Tottenham this weekend to keep alive any hopes of winning the title. City can’t afford any more slipups and their defensive unit has to improve.

Going forward Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling David Silva and Sergio Aguero have been in good form for most of the season, but adding Jesus will bring competition and Kelechi Iheanacho will also be pushing him all the way for minutes.

Many would like to see Aguero given some help up to and maybe Jesus can start alongside him in the weeks and months to come?

We all saw just how good Jesus can be during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Now he has all eyes on him as he prepares to make his long-awaited debut against Tottenham.

Kaka hoping to stay in Orlando beyond 2017

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 08:  Kaka #10 of Orlando City SC dribbles the ball during an MLS soccer match between the New York City FC and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 8, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Kaka is enjoying life in Florida.

The former Ballon d’Or winner is hoping to stay with Orlando City SC beyond the end of his contract, which runs its course after the 2017 season.

[ MORE: Real Madrid now winless in three ]

Kaka has been very good for the Lions, scoring 19 goals and 15 assists in 53 total matches. Reports had said he’s skip town after the third year of the deal, but Kaka refutes that idea.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“A misunderstanding because I am very happy here,” Kaká told reporters at MLS Media Day on Tuesday. “I had a three year contract, so this is the last year under this contract, but my idea is to stay here.

“Of course we never know what can happen at the end of the season or during the season, but my idea for now is to stay in Orlando and stay in the league.”

Kaka turns 35 in April, but has been consistently good even if injuries kept him to 24 MLS contests last season. If he puts forth a similar season, there’s little reason for Orlando — or another team — not to take a chance on Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite.

Gabriel Jesus cleared, could make Man City debut

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 20:  Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras runs with the ball during the match between Palmeiras and Botafogo for the Brazilian Series A 2016 at Allianz Parque on November 20, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gabriel Jesus could go straight into Manchester City’s starting lineup.

The 19-year-old Brazilian has finally been cleared to suit up for the English side after finishing a title-winning campaign with Palmeiras.

With four goals in six caps for the Brazil national team and an Olympic gold medal with their U-23 side, Jesus is among the hottest prospects in the world.

[ MORE: City fifth in “Money League” ]

City is struggling, and the fresh injection of attacking talent could be music to the ears of boss Pep Guardiola (who, fun fact, celebrates his 46th birthday today).

From the Manchester Evening News:

“He’s a great player. Going to Europe is a good thing for a player. He will grow quicker, he will start to understand football in another way and also be respected inside the football scene.

“I guess that for Gabriel Jesus it was a good thing to leave Brazilian soccer, he did everything he had could in [Brazil]. He’s going to a very difficult, competitive [type of football] but I think that he can be successful.”

Jesus had 21 goals in 46 matches this season with Palmeiras.

Casemiro: “Real Madrid aren’t ever allowed to lose”

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 18:  Henrique Casemiro of Real Madrid heads the ball against Daniel Wass of Celta de Vigo during the Copa del Rey Quarter Final, First Leg match between Real Madrid CF and  Celta Vigo at Bernabeu on January 18, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
1 Comment

The pressure at Real Madrid can be overwhelming, and the players who thrive there generally have thick skin and short memories.

They also take losses pretty seriously.

That goes for the manager as well, as both Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and Casemiro have reacted to Real’s third-straight non-win in serious fashion.

[ MORE: Real no longer No. 1 in money ]

Remember, this is coming after the first match of the “slump” — a 3-3 draw with Sevilla — was the final match of a world record 40-match unbeaten run.

Casemiro, whose record in the Real Madrid lineup is as good as anyone’s, said this (via Marca):

“Yes, it’s worrying to lose again,” he said just after the full-time whistle. “Real Madrid aren’t ever allowed to lose. The defeat against Sevilla has hurt us.”

And if you want to tell Casemiro to relax, that only one of those matches was in league play and the club still leads the table by a point with a match-in-hand on nearly everyone… well… enter Zidane.

“I’m the one responsible and I must find the solution,” he said in his post-match press conference. “I wasn’t surprised by the way Celta played, as we knew that they’re a team that can really hurt you. I’m not worried, although it’s a bad moment. We know that we can overcome it and we are going to overcome it.”

I’m far from a Real Madrid fan, and you can credit Florentino Perez’s ideas and the hanky-waving fans for a lot of that, but it’s impossible not admire how seriously Real takes the business of winning. And maybe, just maybe, the fan and board expectations occasionally help the squad.