Man Utd icon Beckham made view on Glazers clear on Old Trafford return
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David Beckham may have left Old Trafford with the seething eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson burning through him, but as a Manchester United icon, the fans will never forget how he marked his return to his former club on this day 13 years ago. With United drawn against Beckham’s temporary club AC Milan in the Champions League, it gave the former Red Devils superstar a chance to play once again at the stadium where it all started – and also make an everlasting statement against the Glazers.
At the time, Beckham had been on a short-term loan from LA Galaxy during the MLS off-season and at 34 knew he might not have had many more chances to rock up at his old hunting ground. The club were just as successful as when he left in 2003 for Real Madrid, but the atmosphere was entirely different as fans formed a protest against the club’s owners.
The Glazer family had acquired the club in a £790million takeover in 2005, despite strong fan opposition to the way it funded the bid using loans against the club’s assets.
And the protest dominated the preamble just as much as Beckham’s homecoming, as United fans wore their green and gold scarves as a symbol of their disapproval of the Glazer family on a chilly March night in Manchester.
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But having secured a 3-2 win at the San Siro in the first leg, United were in pole position to control the tie and did so in devastating fashion, with Ferguson’s men simply too good on the night as they stormed to a 4-0 win (7-2 on aggregate) in front of their fans.
At the final whistle, Beckham almost looked proud of what he had left behind – and as he saluted the fans, he made the grandest gesture of all.
As he walked around the pitch to a warm reception, he wrapped himself in the very same green-gold scarf that thousands of United fans had donned that night. As one of the better media-trained footballers out there, Beckham knew what the headlines would say if he outright criticised the Glazers and he refused to attribute himself to any criticism aimed towards their ownership.
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But sometimes actions speak louder than words. The England hero knew that no one could complain if he simply draped a scarf with the club’s original colours around his neck, whilst making a statement that proved he was on their side. A win-win PR move.
“I’m a Man United fan. I saw the scarf there. I put it round my neck, it’s the old colours of Man United, that’s all I knew,” Beckham said after the game.
“To be honest it’s (the protest) not my business. I’m a Manchester United fan. I support the club. I always have done and I always will do.
“It’s nothing to do with me the way everything is run, that’s to do with other people but I’m a Man United fan and I support the team. I will always support them.”
United fans knew they would need the support of their former players if they were to ever get the Glazers out of their club. Now, 18 years later, they have never been closer to reaching that reality with bidders in the frame to acquire the club.
And while Beckham’s moral compass may have changed in those years since amid his affiliation with the Qatar regime that could now take control of the club, his stance against the Glazers is still remembered to this day.
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