The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Already comfortable at Real’
The players sort of accepted me straightway, says David Beckham

Tokyo: David Beckham has been a Real Madrid player for just over a month but the England captain already feels like he has been at the club for years.

“I think there usually is a settling down period, but for me I already feel comfortable in this team,” Beckham said in an interview on Tuesday.

“I feel like I’ve been here for years already. That’s important for me, to feel as if I belong in this team and all the players have made me feel like that.”

Beckham, who joined the Spanish champions for $40 million on July 2, has adapted so quickly he is already relishing the chance to meet former club Manchester United in the Champions League.

“I spent a lot of time at Manchester United...but that’s in the past. I’m a Real Madrid player now and fully committed 110, 120 percent to Real Madrid.

“If I come up against Manchester United, obviously we will want to beat them. It will be a nice night,” said the 28-year-old.

Beckham, who made his Real debut in a 4-0 win over a Chinese select team in Beijing at the weekend, said that former Liverpool player Steve McManaman and Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo have smoothed his transition.

“The players sort of accepted me straightaway...and the players who speak English — Macca (McManaman) and Luis — have helped me a lot,” said Beckham, who has picked up a few words of Spanish, not all of them work-related.

“On the pitch there are a few words I know and have used because it is important that I communicate as much as I can. Roberto Carlos has taught me a few naughty words though.”

Extra pressure

A relaxed-looking Beckham insisted Real Madrid — with a wealth of riches such as Figo, Ronaldo, Raul and Zinedine Zidane — could cope with the extra pressure his move to the Bernabeu is bound to bring this season. “The pressure on big teams like Real Madrid is always there. It will never change,” shrugged the England midfielder.

“Whoever they bring in, whoever they buy, there is always pressure on them to win trophies.

“They’ve done that last season with the league and hopefully we can do the same next season and add a few more to it.”

The man who launched a thousand mohicans in Japan during the 2002 World Cup has already broadened the appeal of Real Madrid in Asia, where Beckham-mania has exploded over the past year.

“The stuff outside football is a great bonus,” said Beckham.

“It’s something I’m used to. I can separate the two. When I’m on the pitch nothing distracts me.”

Beckham played in his usual position on the right of midfield against the Chinese select team, the first match of Real’s pre-season tour of the Far East, with Real’s regular right-sided midfielder, Figo, on the left.

“I have always said that I like playing on the right but I always would welcome a position in the middle,” he said.

“It doesn’t bother me really. Luis has gone to the left and as you saw the other night, he was man of the match, so switching positions has not bothered him in any sense.

“As long as I’m playing and am in the team, that’s good for me.”

The London-born Beckham may be committed to his new life in Spain but he still has no intention of missing England’s friendly with Croatia on August 20. “There was talk of the England coach, Mr (Sven-Goran) Eriksson seeing how I was settling in...but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” smiled Beckham. “I’m England captain.”

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