A host of Major League Soccer’s biggest names have hailed David Beckham following the announcement that he is set to retire from football.
The 38-year-old will call time on a glittering career after Paris Saint-Germain’s final Ligue 1 fixture of the season, against Lorient on Sunday May 26.
Beckham famously spent five years in the US with Los Angeles Galaxy, and news of his impending retirement has prompted his former coach, Bruce Arena, to laud his impact on the game stateside.
“David’s five or six years in Major League Soccer brought a lot of attention to the league,” he said.
“He helped elevate the focus on the league and the league’s growth during that time was unprecedented and we’re hopeful we can get him back in ownership.”
Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan also had kind words for the retiring former England captain, praising him for helping to develop the reputation of the MLS.
“Our relationship in Los Angeles didn’t get off to the best start, but it improved because we were able to communicate really well with him,” he said.
“He put our team on the map. When he arrived, the MLS had 14 teams and now there are 19 teams plus very nice stadiums, so his impact has been big.”
Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications, added his voice to the host of tributes paid to the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder.
“All of us at Major League Soccer are fortunate to have spent six seasons with David Beckham,” he said.
“He was certainly a great leader on the field who won championships with the Galaxy but he also inspired millions of soccer fans throughout North America and the world with his contributions to the sport.
“We certainly thank him for his 21 seasons of playing and we hope to see him as an owner in Major League Soccer in the future as he does have an option to buy a team at some point.
“David Beckham is a quality individual and an incredible athlete. He is a guy who really embraced his role as an ambassador to grow the game globally.
“I can’t tell you how many media interviews he did or sponsor appearances or community clinics during his time with the Galaxy and we have seen that continue in Paris with PSG and certainly when he was at Real Madrid and Manchester United.
“He is a global icon who transcends sport and the sport of soccer and he has stepped up in a big way when he was in the MLS to grow the game in North America.”
And New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, who faced Beckham and LA Galaxy during the 2012 MLS season, believes the league owes a great debt to the Englishman.
“I honestly feel that players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry are world-class players. And David Beckham is someone who has proven it time and time again,” he said.
“To leave when he left the Premier League, everyone was questioning why. But the bigger picture, you have to see what he’s done in world soccer. He’s made a massive impact on the MLS, and you can see that.
“Everywhere I travel every weekend, you see Beckham jerseys regardless of who you play against. Hats off to him, he’s a special player.”