David Beckham: “Now, as an owner, going into this weekend, I know we could not have done anything more as owners, as an ownership group. There’s nothing we could do any more than what we’ve done. So, that means we’re ready. I’m not nervous. I’m just excited.” (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK – He has played for English Premier League champions, competed in the World Cup, has been involved in more than his share of controversies and has been the face of English football and Major League Soccer. Yet, Inter Miami CF has been the most challenging thing in David Beckham’s life.
“It’s been probably the hardest thing [I have done],” he said at Major League Soccer’s 25th season kickoff on Wednesday. “But it has also been the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.”
Beckham, a co-owner of the team, will get an opportunity to see the fruits of his labor when Inter Miami makes its MLS debut against Supporters Shield champion Los Angeles Football Club at the Banc of California Stadium at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday (ESPN).
On the eve of the match, Beckham was calm.
“Someone said to me, ‘How nervous are you this weekend?’ And my reply actually is that I am not nervous,” he said. “I never was nervous going into games as a player. And, as an owner I also feel that if you do things in the right way — for me personally, as a player, I knew that I prepared well the week before — the weekend I wasn’t nervous. That’s why I wasn’t nervous for games because I know all of the hard work had been done the week before and I was ready to go into a game.
“Now, as an owner, going into this weekend, I know we could not have done anything more as owners, as an ownership group. There’s nothing we could do any more than what we’ve done. So, that means we’re ready. I’m not nervous. I’m just excited.”
The expansion team will play LAFC at Banc of California Stadium at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Even though it hasn’t played a game yet, Inter Miami already has been valued by Transfermarkt.com as the third highest club in the 26-team MLS at $46 million. It trails only Atlanta United ($65.3 million) and LAFC ($64 million).
“We’re very proud of that statistic, even though we haven’t kicked a ball yet,” Beckham said. “So, it says a lot of what we’ve created and the buzz we’ve created around our club and the hard work we’ve done, especially over the last two years is incredible. You’ll see the training facility and the stadium what we’ve done in the last 10 months has been an incredible journey. We’re very excited about that. The most important thing to us is to win on the field. That’s what we’re excited about.”
After the team plays at D.C. United on March 7, Inter Miami will make its highly anticipated home debut at a new, 18,000-seat venue built on the ground of the demolished Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. against Beckham’s old MLS club, the LA Galaxy on March 14. The club has endured one headache after another trying to find a proper stadium sight in Miami. The Lockhart venue is supposed to be a temporary ground.
That stadium was constructed in 10 months, which must be considered a modern marvel in today’s world of permits and construction delays.
Needless to say, Beckham is most proud of how quickly everything came together.
“Until you’ve stood there in front of our facility and our stadium, it’s hard to explain what actually has been done,” he said. “Ten months ago, we stood on the same piece of land, weeds growing out of the ground, half the stadium on the floor, tumbleweeds running past us while we’re doing a talk about how proud we are about our stadium being built here. Now fast forward 10 months to see what we’ve created, this incredible facility, one of the best facilities that I’ve ever seen. I’m biased, but it’s one of the best facilities that I’ve ever seen, even in Europe.
“The thing that made it – there are many things that made it real for me – I think that when the white lines went down in our stadium the other day. That was the moment I thought, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ … Someone turned said, ‘What is success for you as a player and also as an owner of a club?’ For me, on 14th of March, when we kick the first ball in our stadium, knowing what we’ve been through over the last couple of years and knowing personally what I’ve been through over the last seven years, with this project and trying to get it going, that’s the sign of success for us.”