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03 March 2024

A Becks hit for UAE footy fans


By Ahmad Lala

If by some impossibly minuscule chance you didn't catch the news yet – David Beckham is in town. Ronaldinho and Kaka are here too, but before we move on to the lesser-known names in football, let's talk about 'him'.

The Brazillian duo with their three Fifa Player of the Year Awards and World Cup titles can wait their turn, as Beckham has eclipsed their fame worldwide.

When AC Milan arrived in Dubai on Monday for their winter training camp with a star-studded squad and held their open-to-the-public training session on the Tuesday at the Al Nasr Football Club, it was clear just how big an attraction their new loan signing is.

Last January, when Milan were the defending Champions League champions and Kaka was the Fifa Player of the Year, a paltry 20-odd fans turned up for the first training session. This year, Milan are not even in the Champions League, yet despite the awkward 5.30pm start, the grandstand at the Al Maktoum Stadium was jam-packed.

Beckhamania was in full flow as Goldenballs' every touch was met with applause and whistles – although the 33-year-old didn't see much of the ball. The LA Galaxy-owned player was a muted figure positioned as he was out wide right.

And he better pick up some Italian quickly if he wants to avoid being an outcast in the Serie A team's dressing room. To start he could learn the phrase for "pass to me".

While Beckham's every move was scrutinised by the crowd, Ronaldinho could hardly be located on the field so limited was his involvement in the play. He seemed perfectly comfortable letting the new star take all the attention. Alexandre Pato, however, was not. Sporting bright green boots, the 19-year old striker quickly impressed the fans by displaying some neat tricks and even wheeling away in mock celebration each time he hit the back of the net.

Back to Beckham, and the English star made sure to give a wave and smile to the fans after the training sessions to send them into a loud cheer, he was not so friendly with the media though.

In fact, had an alien landed on earth and watched a Milan training session here, he would have come to the conclusion that Becks was dumb. He didn't speak on the pitch and he certainly didn't do any talking to the media.

And yet it is Beckham who is in the pages of this – and many other – newspapers and magazines. That is proof indeed that a picture is worth a thousand words.