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Football Superstar David Beckham Leaving Real Madrid, Joining MLS in Los Angeles

In a move that is sure to send reverberations throughout international football, English star David Beckham has decided to sign with the U.S. Major League Soccer League. As VOA's David Byrd reports, the man known as much for his image off the field as his performance on it stands to make nearly $250 million.

Beckham, 31, said Thursday that, after discussing several options with his family and advisers, he decided to sign a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The midfielder could earn as much as $250 million.

The former English national team captain said that he is proud to have played for two of the biggest football clubs in the world, Manchester United and Real Madrid. However, Beckham said he looks forward to the challenge of raising the profile of the world's most popular game in the United States, where the most popular sports are homegrown, American football and baseball.

"Soccer in America is the biggest played sport up to a certain age," he said. "And that's where I want to take it to another level, because, potentially, it can go higher than anyone can probably believe in America."

Beckham was one of several high-profile players signed at Real, including French hero Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo of Brazil and Portugal's Luis Figo. However, the Spanish club has not won a major trophy during Beckham's time in Spain.

David Beckham is as much an international celebrity as he is a sports star. He receives millions of dollars annually in endorsements, and also has a sports academy in southern California. His wife, Victoria Beckham, a former member of the pop music group, The Spice Girls, has been house hunting in Los Angeles.