The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spain hails Beckham

Real Madrid players works out at a Hong Kong gym on Wednesday. (Reuters}

Madrid: For the first time since his high-profile move to Real Madrid two months ago it was David Beckham the footballer rather than the global marketing phenomenon that has grabbed the headlines in the Spanish media.

A fine allround performance and a superbly executed first goal for his new club in their 3-0 victory over FC Tokyo in the second game of their pre-season tour of the Far East has reminded everyone that Beckham’s true talent lies on the football pitch.

“Beckham takes control,” was the verdict of Spain’s best-selling sports daily Marca on the performance of the former United player, while rival AS christened him “Marshal Beckham” for his assured control of the Real midfield in the absence of Zinedine Zidane.

He capped a fine display with what has become his hallmark, a classy goal from a perfectly struck free kick on the edge of the area just before halftime.

But for Beckham’s teammates it was the England player’s allround performance that impressed them more than the free kick.

“We all know what he can do from free kicks,” defender Michel Salgado told Spanish state television. “But what I liked was the amount of effort he put in throughout the game.”

Roberto Carlos said that Beckham showed he would have no problem holding his own alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Zidane, Luis Figo and Raul.

“It’s a privilege to play alongside him,” the Brazilian defender told Real Madrid’s website. “For me he’s one of the best players around at the moment. We have to give him a bit more time, but I am sure he is going to play some great games.”

Real in Hong Kong

Meanwhile Real arrived in Hong Kong Wednesday on the latest leg of their tour of Asia.

The Spanish champions were mobbed by fans at the former British colony’s Chek Lap Kok international airport after touching down from Tokyo before being whisked to a luxury hotel in the city’s Wanchai red-light district.

But fans anxious for a glimpse of Beckham were left disappointed after Real abruptly cancelled a scheduled evening training session at the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium. Instead, Figo, Carlos and Salgado appeared at a brief press conference where reporters were not allowed to ask questions.


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