It's a funny thing, perhaps, that David Beckham "in spite of winning so little, leaves Spain having won so much respect -- from journalists, fans, dressing room heavyweights ... and even from the manager who once vowed to never pick him again," The Guardian's Jack Rashleigh points out. Indeed, the praise Becks has received in fulfilling the dream laid out from atop a skybox during his club-imposed exile has been almost unanimous.
Forty minutes after Real Madrid won the La Liga title on Sunday, Coach Fabio Capello was asked about the mistakes he made during the turbulent campaign. "Leaving out Beckham," was his immediate answer. "Not considering him for selection in January because he had signed for [the L.A. Galaxy] was the biggest mistake." And while Capello was being asked (yet again) to repeat the club's mistakes with respect to Beckham, columnists were crafting epitaphs on his Real career. Carlos Carbajosa of El Mundo writes: "The best right foot that has played in the Bernabeu for decades is leaving and, as he goes, the overriding sensation is one of injustice that a player as good as him did not win more."
Many others were equally generous with their praise, but Jose Samano of El Pais makes the best point: "The great paradox has been that the number one sporting icon, king of the catwalk, actually turned out to be an anti-Diva on the pitch." Indeed, Beckham may have played well in Real's run-in to the title, but it was professional attitude throughout that will cement his place in the hearts of the Spanish people forever, and most likely earned his recall in the first place.