Lights, Beck-Cam, action...Beckham wows PSG on bow

24 February 2013 08:17

David Beckham's widely anticipated Paris Saint-Germain debut propelled the Ligue 1 leaders' clash against arch-rivals Marseille -- French football's biggest fixture -- into the global sporting spotlight on Sunday.

The former England captain was named among the substitutes for "Le Classique" -- as the match is known locally -- as he was included in Carlo Ancelotti's plans for the first time since his feted arrival at the end of January.

Beckham was fourth off the PSG team bus as it arrived at the 48,000-capacity Parc des Princes in the south-west of the city on Sunday evening with cameras focussed on his every step in the French capital.

The midfielder, sporting a wide grin, then emerged from the home changing room for the pre-match warm-up displaying his British grit as one of just a handful of players without a hat or jogging trousers despite the freezing, snowy conditions.

While Marseille players were jeered vociferously as they went through their paces prior to kick-off, Beckham's every move on the pitch was captured with French broadcaster Canal+ revealing that one camera -- dubbed "Beck-Cam" -- would be set aside solely to follow the ex-Manchester United star.

The 37-year-old was then officially presented to the home fans minutes prior to the start of the match before returning down the tunnel, although there was no sign of wife Victoria or the couple's four children in the ground.

France's L'Equipe newspaper headlined the game Sunday on their front page, but elected to downplay the Beckham angle, focusing instead on the significance of the game in terms of the Ligue 1 leadership battle.

Beckham was not the only English representative in Paris on Sunday, with Marseille's on-loan midfielder Joey Barton also experiencing his first taste of the PSG-OM rivalry.

Reputable magazine France Football, the publication responsible for distributing the Ballon d'Or award prior to its merger with the FIFA World Player of the Year prize three years ago, was quick to highlight the duel.

The magazine highlighted the contrasting public perception of both players by adorning Beckham, the "angel", with wings and a halo and depicting Barton as the "devil" with a mocked-up red-faced, horned image on the front page of its weekend edition.

A product of the Manchester United youth academy where he starred at Old Trafford for the best part of a decade before moving on to Real Madrid, Los Angeles and AC Milan, Beckham is more than accustomed to intense rivalries that are the focus of much media scrutiny.

"I have played in a lot of big matches in my career, games like AC Milan against Inter, Real Madrid against Barcelona, and the (Los Angeles) Galaxy against Chivas," Beckham told PSG's official website on the eve of the game.

"For me, it is very exciting to play in another very special match."

Beckham, who did his cause no harm by agreeing to donate his estimated 800,000-euro ($1 million) monthly salary to a children's charity, admitted he was relishing the prospect of his latest adventure.

"The league is full of talented players and teams, and it is pretty close at the top just now. It's a difficult league. I know it will be a challenge but it is one I'm really looking forward to."

Source: AFP