David Beckham`s MLS experiment ending with a whimper

Toronto: After five years of false starts David Beckham will finally make his Toronto Major League soccer debut when the Los Angeles Galaxy make an early season visit to play the Toronto FC Wednesday.

But Beckham`s Canadian MLS unveiling might also be his swan song as the former England captain`s five-year North American soccer adventure is set to conclude at the end of the season.

"I`m happy to be back in Toronto, I`ve been here a few times and really enjoyed it," a smiling Beckham told reporters. "The few times I`ve been here I enjoyed myself."

When Beckham announced his signing with the Galaxy in 2007, it sent shivers of excitement throughout hockey-mad Canada and triggered a spike in season ticket sales for a Toronto soccer franchise that had yet to play a game.

Within hours of the announcement that Beckham joined the Galaxy in a $250 million (153 million pounds) deal, Toronto FC said they received thousands of calls and sold hundreds of season tickets.

Now, in the last year of his contract, Beckham will finally play his first MLS game in Toronto but likely not before the same adoring crowd that greeted him during the 2008 MLS All-Star game in Toronto when Beckham-mania was at its peak.

In the half-decade since leaving Spanish giants Real Madrid to conquer the MLS, much of the Beckham buzz has vanished.

The hundreds of media, many from around the globe, that had flocked to Toronto in 2007 to watch the celebrity midfielder sit at the end of the Galaxy bench in a designer suit in an injury-aborted MLS debut, have not returned.

The special accreditation and presidential-type security in place for Beckham`s massive media briefing five years ago had slimmed down Tuesday to one handler, a half-dozen television cameras and a handful of local media in a small conference room in the basement of a downtown hotel.

Bureau Report

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