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Image courtesy of Total Football Madness.comI have not always been the biggest fan of David Beckham, and who could blame me? He had a reputation for being hot-headed, temperamental, and even at times a cry baby. When he came to MLS I was excited for the league. My excitement quickly disappeared, however, as he went through his phase of complaining about the lack of quality in the league, and even his attempt to leave MLS and return to European football. Eh, why be coy about it? I HATED David Beckham. But with the new year comes a new perspective, and strangely enough, I think I'm beginning to like the guy a little bit. 

 The last 6 weeks have been a very busy time for me. I moved back home to Chicago, a 200 mile journey that I will no longer have to make just to attend Fire matches. I started a new job, and I took a fantastic vacation. The reason I mention all this is two-fold, first off, I apologize for my hiatus from writing, it's been unavoidable. Secondly, my vacation was the start of my turn around on David Beckham. 

You see, before leaving for this trip I took a trip to the bookstore to stock up on material for the plane. One of the books I purchased was Beckham's autobiography, "Both Feet on the Ground". It gives you great insight into the life and career of David Beckham, starting in his early years as a player in England. The more I read the book, the more fascinated I became with the man I had hated for so long...

Let's back up again really quickly. Most people are probably wondering why I bought the book in the first place if I hated him so much. My hatred of Becks started to wane a little bit at the late part of the MLS season and into MLS Cup playoffs. I've always been keen on Robbie Keane (Yes, pun intended) and his arrival at LA made me just a tiny bit interested in their run toward the MLS Cup final. I got caught up in Galaxy fever and found myself pulling for them in the final. The story lines were all there, Becks, Keane, Donovan, Arena, all of it. As soon as the final was over I started hearing the stories about Beckham going to PSG - one of the European clubs I support. I was happy and sad at the same time. I understood why I was happy, one of the clubs I follow has the opportunity to land one of the most electrifying players in the game. But why was I sad? After all of the Becks bashing I had done over the years, including my time at Finaltimeout.com, I wanted him to stay in MLS. It's just good for the game. Look at away stadiums when LA plays there, they're packed. I even got my girlfriend to her first Fire match of the season by telling her Becks played for the opposing team - although he ended up being suspended for the match. 

Everyone wants to see him. Love him or hate him. He's fantastic for the league. He's stopped his assault on MLS and has probably been instrumental in helping grow the league. The additions of Henry and Keane probably had a little to do with his success here. The rumors that are always out there about Anelka, Drogba, and others, again all stem from the success that Becks has had in the US. 

That is why, when I read Jeff Carlisle's article I was actually happy, excited almost, that Beckham would be playing in MLS for 2 more years. Call me what you will, but I've done a 180 on him, and I think MLS owes him a great deal of thanks for his part in growing the league into what it is today. That being said, when LA comes to Chicago this season, I will absolutely be screaming not-so-nice things at him, but only about him - not about his children or his wife, as some moron English fans continue to do whenever he disappoints them.