Trench coat, Burberry ($1,595). 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; burberry.com. Dress shirt, Ralph Lauren Black Label ($275). 444 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; ralphlauren.com. Tie, Dolce & Gabbana ($150). 312 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; dolcegabbana.com. Pants, Beckham’s own

 
 

» Slideshow: Get David Beckham's Cover Look

What if you so excelled at a sport, your name became synonymous with the game, your skills the stuff of legend? What if you were so talented, so charismatic that the unenviable task of growing your sport’s popularity in the world’s third-largest country fell to you? What if?

For David Beckham, it's neither a question nor an unimaginable scenario. It's his reality.

The London-born footballer, who made his career playing for some of Europe’s top teams, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan, became arguably the world’s most famous soccer player with an incomparable free kick and a slew of eccentric hairstyles.

But in 2007 Beckham made the life-changing decision to leave the prestige of European football for America to join fledgling Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the LA Galaxy. The goal was not only to win more championships—it was to win the country’s attention and generate a lasting interest in soccer that had previously proved elusive.

Four years later, Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria “Posh” Beckham, have certainly acclimated to the City of Angels, their new home, and are expecting their first girl to add to their brood of three boys: Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz. And coming off a devastating tear of his Achilles that rendered him unable to play in last year’s FIFA World Cup, Beckham—the one-time Emporio Armani underwear poster boy—swears he’s in better shape than ever after spending nearly two months in England training with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. He’s feeling good about the new Galaxy season. But has Becks helped tip a nation seemingly indifferent to his sport toward a soccer-centric future? We caught up with the world-famous athlete to ask him about that, as well as having another baby, how he balances his evergrowing celebrity with his love for the game and if coaching is in his future.

Firstly, how are you feeling? How’s the Achilles?
DAVID BECKHAM:
It’s feeling good. I’ve just come back from Europe, which I wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to go on loan; I wasn’t going to go train with another club, because at the end of last season I felt I needed to rest. But then after being off a month, I kind of thought I needed to do something. I spoke to the Galaxy and said, “You know, I think at my age and at this time in my career, I really need to think about looking after myself and working through this.” They agreed with me, and they allowed me to join Tottenham [Hotspur]. And I did a little less than two months of good training there. So I feel good. I’ve only missed about three weeks of training with the Galaxy, and I’m ready for the season.

How was training with Tottenham?
DB:
It was really good because—obviously—the Premiership is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. I got the sharpness back into my game. I’ve come back physically stronger and better than I have been for a few years.

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