MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Legendary English footballer David Beckham took the stage at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center to announce the culmination of four years of patience and hard work.
Major League Soccer has officially arrived in South Florida.
“Hello Miami. Hola Miami,” Beckham opened, to thunderous applause. Four years of doubt and frustration seemed to disappear with that simple greeting.
Beckham first announced his intentions to bring an MLS franchise to Miami in February of 2014. Finally, in January of 2018 – with fellow investors, the league commissioner, and two mayors sharing the stage – the wait is over.
“Bringing an MLS club to Miami has been a hell of a journey,” Beckham said. “I joined the (LA) Galaxy in 2007 because I realized the potential in this league. I moved from Real Madrid to come to a league that wasn’t fully established yet. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but an interesting and exciting challenge.”
When Beckham arrived stateside as a player, he did so with an agreement in place to become a team owner after his playing career.
“[MLS Commissioner Don Garber] came to me and explained the plan of this league and where he wanted to take it. I was in from Day 1,” Beckham noted.
“I promise you: the team we bring into this league will be one of the better teams. It will be the best team,” proclaimed Beckham.
Beckham was never obligated to bring a team to Miami. He had his choice of any available market.
“I was drawn to this city for the same reasons that millions of people are: the diversity, the culture, the weather, the beaches, and the people.”
Choosing Miami was easy, but actually making things happen, wasn’t. Road blocks with local governments and investors had left the project in doubt.
“I’m going to be honest. It was very difficult at times,” Beckham said. “Like [business partner Marcelo Claure] said, we sat back and said, ‘this is not going to happen. This dream is not going to happen.’ There are too many bumps in the road, but I don’t give up. Nothing in my career and my life has been easy. From the moment when I was twelve years old I had a coach turn around to me and tell me I will never play professional football and will never play for my country because I’m too small and too skinny. 25 years on, I made 115 appearances for my country and won four different championships in four different places. I had a pretty good career.”
This time, it didn’t take twenty-five years to make a dream happen.
“The only way for me to get through difficult times is to roll my sleeves up, never give in, and literally never give up. That’s what I did with this.”
Beckham says the one thing that kept him going were Miami’s fans. “You guys are the reason this is happening today.”
“We said we cannot let this dream go. This is a dream not just for us as an ownership group, this is a dream for you guys, and that’s the most important thing.”
“We are going to make and build a club that you can be proud of.”