Beckham arrives in Australia

Updated: 26 November 2007 17:03 IST

David Beckham arrived in Australia on Sunday to join his LA Galaxy team preparing for the friendly match against A-League side Sydney FC on Tuesday.


David Beckham arrived on a private jet on Sunday for his first visit to Australia, while his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates came on a scheduled airline from the United States.

The former England captain apparently wants no other special treatment while Down Under for the Galaxy's exhibition match Tuesday night against Sydney FC before a sellout crowd of 80,000 at the former Olympic stadium.

Sunday newspapers were full of Beckham stories - despite a national election the day before.

Several focused on Beckham's shunning of a presidential-style suite at a downtown casino hotel in favor of a basic one that his teammates will get.

The suite goes for about 6,000 Australian dollars (US$5,250, euro3,550) a night, the regular room A$270 (US$235, euro160).

"We're quite under whelmed about the fact he'll be staying as one of the team members. He hasn't come through with a list of requests we're used to here," Star City official Richard Munro said. "He doesn't want anything special, which is a real credit to a superstar like him."

Beckham's first official appearance in Sydney came at a Sunday media conference with his new coach and former Dutch international Ruud Gullit, Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan and Sydney FC coach John Kosmina.

"I'm very happy to be here. I've never been to this country before and it's somewhere I've wanted to visit for a long time," Beckham said. "It took me 22 hours to get here but it's more than worth it."

Beckham will remain in Sydney until Thursday before flying to New Zealand for the Galaxy's friendly against Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.

Beckham arrived from London after England missed out on qualification for Euro 2008. The midfielder came on a second-half substitute in England's 3-2 loss to Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday, Beckham's 99th international.

Beckham was unaware of a deal that he would have to play at least 55 minutes of Tuesday's match, but wanted to play the full 90 anyway.

"Physically, I'm good - I'm a lot better than I have been since I joined the Galaxy," Beckham said. "I'll be happy to play at least 55 minutes and the whole game if possible."

Earlier Sunday, Beckham was accused of snubbing a group of child cancer survivors. But Beckham said he did not see the children waiting outside his hotel as he arrived from the airport under police escort.

"I would never have done that," Beckham said. "Never have done, never will do. I'm more than willing to meet them wherever they want and at whatever time that they want. I apologize, but like I said, I didn't actually see them."

Anita Byers, mother of 14-year-old leukemia survivor Emma Byers, accepted Beckham's explanation.

"I feel sorry for him to have to walk into this kind of controversy, so I hope he's not portrayed too badly," Anita Byers said.

Beckham is in Australia without his wife of eight years, Victoria, and their three sons - Brooklyn, 8; Romeo, 5; and Cruz, 2.

Victoria, formerly Posh Spice in the Spice Girls, is said to be rehearsing with her former group for their world reunion tour which begins Dec. 2 in Vancouver, Canada.

Beckham's visit has spurred sales of his Galaxy jersey - 20,000 have been sold in Australia in the past month.

"We've had requests increasing everyday," Trent Karoll, a sporting goods company managing director, said. "Securing supply ... was tricky."

The Beckham-led Galaxy match is the team's first exhibition outside North America and will be televised internationally.

Topics : Football
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