Paris. Former England captain David Beckham on Thursday signed for ambitious French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain on a five-month contract which will see him donate his entire salary to a children’s charity.
The 37-year-old midfielder — one of the world’s most recognizable sportsmen with a pop star wife and an estimated net worth of 190 million pounds ($300 million — has been without a club since leaving Los Angeles Galaxy last year.
But after a day of fevered speculation, the ex-Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan star was unveiled by Qatari-owned PSG at a packed news conference after a routine medical at a city hospital.
“I’m very lucky. I’m 37 and I got a lot of offers, probably more offers that I’ve ever had in my career. I chose Paris because I can see what the club is trying to do, I can see the players the club’s bringing in,” said Beckham, whose deal runs until June 30.
“It’s a club that’s going to have a lot of success in the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
Father-of-four Beckham, whose family will remain in London, revealed that he would donate his salary during his time in the French capital to a local children’s charity.
“That’s one of the things that we’re very excited about, to be able to give a huge sum to a children’s charity in Paris. It’s special,” he said.
News of Beckham’s arrival lit up the final day of the January transfer window, a year after the former Old Trafford playmaker was first linked with a move to the Parc des Princes.
The deal with Becks — who is married to the former Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria — gives PSG’s ambitious Qatari owners a celebrity brand with the clout to tap new markets for the club, particularly in Asia.
It also provides a welcome boost to Ligue 1, which lacks the same level of star attraction as other major European leagues and has seen an exodus of top players in the transfer window, notably to the big money English Premier League.
Beckham insisted he has plenty to offer at PSG who currently top Ligue 1 and are in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Despite admitting that he does not expect to feature regularly in the starting line-up, the veteran believes he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
“How much can I give? I have a lot of experience in the game — 37 years old, over 13 or 14 championship trophies throughout my career, I’ve played for some of biggest clubs in the world, played with some of the best players in the world.
“And still being successful at 37 years old and still being fit, I can run around and can still play like I was 21.
“I might have only signed a contract until the end of the season. But I consider myself to be part of this club in the future, in helping this club to grow, in helping the French league to grow, in helping this club become one of the biggest powerhouses in football.”
Beckham, capped 115 times for England — a national record for an outfielder — first came to prominence at Manchester United and in 1999 helped the club win the coveted “Treble” of the English Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League.
Renowned as a dead-ball specialist for the quality of his delivery from free-kicks and corners, Beckham rose through the ranks as one of a crop of talented young players including Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.
He made his United debut aged 17 in 1992 and went on to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League with the English giants.
His England debut came in 1996 and two years later he was sent off during a last 16 defeat by Argentina at the 1998 World Cup in France, making him a brief hate figure for many England fans.
Beckham’s relationship with United boss Alex Ferguson soured towards the end of his time in Manchester, with the veteran manager concerned about his increasingly high profile after his glitzy wedding to “Posh Spice” Victoria.