The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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David Beckham gets No. 23 at Real Madrid

Madrid: Real Madrid officially unveiled England captain David Beckham as their latest signing on Wednesday at a glitzy ceremony beamed live across the world.

Former Real great Alfredo di Stefano handed Beckham the club’s famous white shirt, adorned with the number 23 made famous in sport by American basketball legend Michael Jordan.

“Beckham is here because we believe in him as a footballer...David, welcome to the dream league,” Real’s president Florentino Perez said.

A beaming Beckham, wearing a white shirt and a light blue suit and accompanied by his wife Victoria, showed off his newly learned Spanish.

Gracias. Senor Di Stefano and Senor Perez...I’ve always loved football. Of course I love my family and I have a wonderful life but football is everything for me and joining Real Madrid is a dream come true,” Beckham said.

Gracias and Hala Madrid (Come on Madrid).”

Hundreds of cheering fans later welcomed the 28-year-old midfielder to Real’s training ground, where Beckham got a taste of the Spanish sunshine and the perfectly manicured turf.

Beckham, sporting the full Real kit, performed a series of tricks for the crowd, balancing the ball on his head and posing for photographs with fans. A young boy somehow managed to join him on the pitch, hugging his new hero several times before being presented with a Real shirt of his own.

On Tuesday, following a medical, Beckham became the fourth world class player to sign for Real in the past three years, following Portuguese winger Luis Figo, French midfielder Zinedine Zidane and Brazilian striker Ronaldo. Real have won the European Cup a record nine times and took their total of Spanish league championships to 29 last season.

The Spanish club is banking on the arrival of Beckham, who enjoys popstar-like adulation from millions of fans around the world, to add further marketing muscle to a club looking to broaden their appeal in Asian markets.

Beckham said learning Spanish would be a priority.

“It will be important for me to express myself in Spanish as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ll make a real effort because it will help me to integrate.

“Signing for Real Madrid is a challenge in family as well as footballing terms. It’s a new life for me and my wife and children — new schools, new customs. It’s a new life and I’m looking forward to starting it.”

“I haven’t come here to be a great star,” said Beckham. “Im here to be part of a team full of great players, who are stars but above all are excellent players.”

“We haven’t talked about my position,” said Beckham, who was speaking in an interview with Real Madrid TV. “The first thing I’ll have to do is battle to win a place in the team, just like everyone else.

Beckham said he was as surprised as anyone by Queiroz’s appointment but recognised the presence of the Portuguese coach would be a help.

“It’s a challenge for him and will be a help to me while I still don’t speak Spanish. It will be good to have him alongside me early on.

Becksmania irks patients

Patients at the hospital where Beckham had his medical were reported to be ready to sue the private clinic, Spanish sports daily Marca said Wednesday.

Scores of patients at the Hospital De La Zarzuela complained of being disturbed and upset by the furore created by the arrival of Beckham and his entourage Tuesday afternoon.

Beckham was not only greeted by a scattering of fans but around 200 journalists.

Although the England captain’s arrival was watched by many patients, dressed in pyjamas and dressing gowns standing on the balconies of their rooms, others complained about the noise and inconvenience.

It was told that an unstated number had asked for legally binding complaint forms — which are a prelude to full legal action being undertaken. The hospital was not immediately available for comment.

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