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Beckham affirms he'll play in L.A.

Soccer star refutes report that his contract with Galaxy has an escape clause. His final match for Real Madrid will be Sunday.

June 15, 2007|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

LONDON — At a teeming news conference in Madrid on Thursday, David Beckham quelled speculation he'll remain at Real Madrid and reiterated he's coming to the Galaxy.

"My last game is Sunday," he said, referring to Real Madrid's crucial season-closer against Mallorca.

The speculation had spread across Europe after Sunday, when Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon told a Spanish reporter of his interest in keeping Beckham and exercising an escape clause.

In the interim, Beckham's agent, Simon Oliviera, and Galaxy General Manager Alexi Lalas denied an escape clause appeared in Beckham's contract, and on Thursday Beckham said, "There is no clause in my contract."

Far from lamenting having signed the Galaxy deal while out of favor in January, before an upturn in his play renewed Real Madrid's interest, Beckham appeared perfectly content at the news conference, extolling his four years at the Spanish and European powerhouse but cordially affirming he'll depart.

"I've played for Real Madrid for four years," he said. "It has been an incredible time. Hopefully, it will end with winning the league, but this is it."

Real Madrid, tied in the standings with Barcelona and two points ahead of FC Sevilla, can win the league if it wins its home match Sunday with Mallorca. It would mark Real Madrid's first league title since 2003, and would come oddly as Beckham exits an era noted for its disappointment from a roster studded with stars such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Raul and Roberto Carlos.

"I haven't won anything in four years," said Beckham, eight times an English Premiership titlist while at Manchester United. "And hopefully, I can change that on Sunday."

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