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End it Like Beckham, Indeed
Times Online, June 18th, 2007 4:30PM

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The Times' George Caulkin waxes poetic about David Beckham's last day at the Santiago Bernabeu, a place he's called home for the last four years and where he had the rare opportunity of walking away as a champion in his final appearance. But Real Madrid, as ever, made tough work of their pre-ordained conclusion, beginning the game against Mallorca "like errant children cautioned about monsters living beneath their beds." It was more "witless defending...a hallmark of their recent existence" that put their backs against the wall, as the Merengues' initial response to the heavy, electric atmosphere was "reminiscent of downright fear."

In the end, it was a gutsy substitution by Coach Fabio Capello-who may yet be fired (he should probably resign)-that inspired yet another Real comeback for the final time this season. As Caulkin says, it was another Premiership has-been, Jose Reyes, who rose to the occasion in place of Becks to deliver the trophy to where we always knew it would end up, per the inescapable storyline. To be fair, Beckham could not have done more: obviously still carrying the ankle injury suffered for England against Estonia, Becks was never going to have one of his more effective games, and Capello was proved right in withdrawing him.

Even so, for a player once discounted by the Real faithful as being a shameless marketing ploy-"a 24-carat success," where "silverware [was] superseded by trinkets,"-Becks now walks away from Real a tried, tested and accepted galactico, having penned a script worthy of his Hollywood friends.

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