The telephone rang Friday morning, and there was that unmistakable voice.
David Beckham, the Galaxy’s globe-trotting midfielder, was checking in from Italy to renew acquaintances before returning to Los Angeles on July 11 to finish out the Major League Soccer season.
On Sunday, Beckham and AC Milan play the final game of the Italian soccer season, a match against Fiorentina in Florence that will determine whether Milan qualifies for the European Champions League next season.
The game also is likely to be the last for AC Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is widely reported to be taking charge of Chelsea in England’s Premier League. Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning midfielder Leonardo apparently is set to replace him.
Meanwhile, Florentino Perez, the man who brought Beckham to Real Madrid along with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Luis Figo, is expected to return as president of the Spanish club on Monday, amid promises to launch a second “Galactico” era.
In other words, there was much to ask Beckham.
Question: Would winning or not winning a Champions League spot affect where you play next season?
Beckham: No, I don’t think so. The level of play, wherever I play, is more important than a Champions League spot, but it would be very disappointing as a Milan player at the moment to not be in the Champions League.
Q: Would you follow Ancelotti to Chelsea if he goes there and if he asks you?
A: I don’t think that’s a possibility, to be quite honest. At the end of the day, I’m still contracted to the Galaxy. I’ll be coming back July 11 to start training and then to finish the MLS season. But it’s always nice to be wanted, and Carlo has been amazing to me since I’ve come to Milan, to play me in as many games as he has. I’m very thankful to him for that.
Q: Is it locked in stone that you will be with Milan next season?
A: No. Nothing has been signed yet [for next season], and nothing’s concrete. But obviously Milan have already showed their interest in me coming back, so that’s a good sign.
Q: On Monday, Perez will become Real Madrid’s president. Can you see yourself ever playing for Real again?
A: I don’t know. To even be asked the question at 34 years old is quite flattering. I never thought I’d be here on loan and playing for a club like AC Milan. What happens in the future, I don’t know. At the moment, all I’m concentrating on is the game on Sunday.
If Florentino gets in, which is looking likely, then I think it’s the best thing for the club. I think he’s a great man. He’s a man who knows the club inside out. He’s a man who always does the best for the players, the club and the fans. He’s a president who creates an excitement with his passion for the game.
Q: Do you still own your home in Madrid?
A: Funnily enough, I do. I’ve been trying to sell it, but obviously no luck yet because of the [economic] crisis.
Q: Major League Soccer said it received $10 million for you to stay with Milan through the end of this season. Was all of that, or the majority of it, paid out of your pocket, and why did you think it was necessary to make that sort of commitment?
A: I’m not sure what the actual figure was, but I did contribute quite a huge sum. It was something that I felt I had to do to stay here for the rest of the season, and I accepted it.
At the end of the day, it’s a hell of a lot of money, but it’s something I really needed to do.
Q: What are your thoughts on returning to MLS and the Galaxy in July?
A: I’m excited about it. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been in Milan for six months, and I’ve enjoyed my time immensely. But I’ve always said, and I will always say, that I am still committed to MLS and to the Galaxy, no matter what anyone says.
Q: What sort of reception are you expecting from the Galaxy players and the fans?
A: I don’t think there’ll be any problem with the players. There was no problem when I sat in front of the players and said the reasons why I was doing it [going to Milan on loan]. Players came up to me and said, ‘Why would you even need to explain that?’ So the players understand.
On the fans side, I hope they realize by now the reasons why I made this move. I’m sure they do deep down. I’m sure they’ll be supportive when I come back. But you never know. Things could be good. Things could be bad. I can only play the game and enjoy myself. I’ve had quite a bit of stick [fan abuse] at certain grounds in England, so I’m sure I can take it.