MILAN (Reuters) - New AC Milan loan signing David Beckham has acknowledged that playing for Los Angeles Galaxy has affected his England career and said he was glad to be back at a top class side.
Beckham, who joins the Serie A club in January on a two-month loan during the U.S. close season, flew into Milan on Saturday and completed a medical before being presented at a packed San Siro news conference full of glitz.
“I always said I’d miss playing at the highest level. I’m not saying in America they won’t get to the highest level. One day it will happen,” the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder said.
“But five months off in the close season, I just can’t do that, so it was important to take this opportunity. If any player is not playing or not playing at the top level, it’s impossible (to play international football).”
The 33-year-old, who has 107 England caps and wants to equal Bobby Moore’s outfield record of 108 caps in February’s friendly with Spain, said he had not been pressured by England coach and former Milan boss Fabio Capello to join the Italian club.
“Of course I asked his advice about where I should go on loan and for how long. He literally said ‘the best thing for you is to play at the highest level wherever that is’,” Beckham said.
“I’ve played against (40-year-old captain) Paolo Maldini and I know how good he is. To be able to play with him is a great honour. I think I have already fallen in love. I love the history of great teams.”
Beckham was disappointed that the transfer window meant he could only be in the stands for Sunday’s home game with Udinese, where he would have had a good chance of starting given a midfield injury crisis.
“I don’t expect to come in the first day and play in the team,” he said. “It doesn’t work like that. I know there’s quite a few injuries at the moment and I’d love to be playing tomorrow night.”
Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said Beckham could maybe do the same loan next year but the player would only reaffirm that he is returning to Galaxy on March 9, even though his loan is actually until June for technical reasons.
“I’m a Galaxy player and I’ll be going back. I’m sure it will be tough to leave (Milan). It is tough to leave any big club. I know as I have left two of them,” he added.
He denied Milan’s fame as a fashion capital was behind his move and said he would be cheering for Manchester United when they face Inter Milan in the Champions League last 16 given he is still a United fan and is now a Milan player.
His celebrity wife Victoria was sat in the front row as Beckham surprised everyone at the news conference by speaking Italian at the start.
“Good evening. It is an honour. I love Italy. I am happy,” he said in decent Italian before trailing off and reverting to English.
He will have the number 32 on his Milan shirt.
Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar