England's David Beckham may not be the best soccer player on the planet, but he's probably the most recognizable one -- and now he's about to debut in America, having agreed to a five-year deal with MLS' L.A. Galaxy in January that could top out at $250 million. It's a huge coup for a league still struggling for massive recognition in the U.S.
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Grabbing a Star
Will Beckham's arrival in America have the same soccer impact that Pelé's decision to play for the Cosmos did in 1975? "David Beckham is a global sports icon who will transcend the sport of soccer in America," MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
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Becks and Posh
Part of the Beckham allure is his marriage to Victoria, the former Posh Spice. The two should fit in nicely in L.A.
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The Power Couple
Just how famous is this power couple? Here they are arriving in Rome last November, having been invited to the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
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Beckham is a world-wide phenomenon, thanks to his fame and media-savvy. Here he's in New York, bending it across the Brooklyn Bridge during a photo shoot for adidas.
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Beckham was the big draw last summer when his former club, Real Madrid, came to the U.S. for some friendlies. This girls' team from Auburn, Wash., cheered on their favorite player when Madrid played in Seattle.
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Beckham's various hairstyles are almost as famous as the man himself, while setting trends across the world. Here are just a few of his looks (the rooster, corn rows, mohawk and the GQ look).
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It's not just the hair, but also the tattoos that are part of Beckham's style.
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Beckham started to make his presence known in England while playing for the Manchester United Youth team in 1993.
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Beckham's fame rose in the U.S. when the movie Bend It Like Beckham became a hit. Ironically, Beckham had little involvement in the movie, which was about a young girl's desire to play soccer against her family's wishes.
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The National Team
Beckham was named as England's captain in November 2000, but resigned after the 2006 World Cup after England lost to Portugal in the quarterfinals. England's new coach Steve McClaren then dropped Beckham from the squad, only to recall him six months later as England badly needed an inspirational lift in its bid to qualify for the 2008 European Championships.
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Few, if any, players in the world are better at free kicks than Beckham, whose ability to "bend" the ball seems to defy physics and frustrate goalkeepers.
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After being dropped from the Real Madrid starting lineup last winter, under-pressure coach Fabio Capello summoned the superstar yet again in May and Beckham was instrumental in guiding Real to its first Spanish league title in four years in June.
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A Fresh Challenge
With "nothing more to prove" in Europe, Beckham faces his steepest climb yet: bringing soccer into the mainstream in the U.S. Will he be successful in the great American frontier? Stay tuned.
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