Beckham bids farewell to Old Trafford

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Beckham bid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford before he quits European soccer for the United States.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Beckham bid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford before he quits European soccer for the United States.  He joined United in 1991 at 16, debuted the next year, and transferred in 2003 to Real Madrid.  In July, he's expected to start a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer.  "The time I spent at this club was the best time in my whole football career," Beckham told the crowd at a charity match won 4-3 by United over a Europe XI on Tuesday.  Injury forced him to withdraw from a star-studded European side. It faced United to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union and the Red Devils' half century of play in continental soccer.  Captain of England Since he moved to Spain, the 31-year-old had returned to the stadium in northwest England as England captain. But he hadn't been able to personally thank United for 14 trophy-filled years.  "I have waited four years to actually come back and to actually say thank you to the fans and the people of the club," he said.  Beckham won six English Premier League titles and a Champions League medal during his United career.  He told supporters that he was grateful for the strong support shown in his darkest hour. In 1998 he became a public hate figure after being sent off for England in a World Cup match against Argentina.  "I think I wouldn't have got through many things without the people in this stadium," he said.     Welcome for Beckham  On the pitch, he publicly supported his former manager Alex Ferguson who struck Beckhams' eye with a football boot in a dressing room bust-up on the eve of his departure.  Ferguson wasn't surprised at the welcome for Beckham.      "I was in the changing rooms but you expect him to get a reception like that," Ferguson said. "All players get a great reception when they come back here."  "David Beckham had some great years here. He came as a boy; all his formative years were here. It was a great learning foundation here before he went to Madrid."  This season, United is on the verge of emulating the historic treble, which Beckham won in 1999.  The team leads the Premier League by nine points and remains in contention for the Champions League and FA Cup.

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