Family trumps foreign interest as Beckham returns to LA

LOS ANGELES – The opportunity to play a role in Major League Soccer’s growth and help the LA Galaxy win championships was fundamental for David Beckham, but one thing supersedes everything now and always.

His family.

Despite offers from Europe, including a pair of Premiership clubs he declined to name, Beckham said the desire to keep his family in Southern California trumped all, leaving him but one option: a two-year deal with the Galaxy.

“At this stage of my career, at this moment of my life, my family and my children are the most important thing to me,” Beckham said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon at Staples Center. “My children love living here and, at the end of the day, at 36 years old, to have the offers I had thrown at me, you have to look at it.”

WATCH: Beckham best moments

His moment of clarity came on New Year’s Eve. Having spent the holidays in London, Beckham said the time to really think things through, discuss them and come to an agreement all came together on Dec. 31.

“Me and Victoria talked about it many times," he said. "Our oldest son [Brooklyn] was a big part of it as well. He’s 12 years old. He’s at the stage of his life where he needs that stability, that schooling and that was a big factor as well. [On] New Year’s Eve, we had a glass of wine and thought, ‘We’re too happy to move.’”

Beckham, 36, completed his five-year contract with LA in style, helping the Galaxy win their first MLS Cup since 2005. Named MLS Comeback Player of the Year in 2011, Beckham helped the Galaxy win their second consecutive Supporters’ Shield and take the top spot in Group A of CONCACAF Champions League group play en route to MLS Cup.

All those things considered, his ability to perform at a high level into his late 30s is seemingly not in doubt.

Still, as much as his family is entrenched in the area, it’s the beautiful game that brought him here in the first place.

“My family are happy here,” Beckham said. “We love living in America, we love living in LA. But … the reason I came to LA was to play soccer. The reason I came to play for the Galaxy was to win a trophy. I hadn’t done that for five years … and then last season we did it.”

Coming back to Los Angeles then was not just a matter of keeping his family happy but also to continue the upward trend that began when Bruce Arena joined the team in 2008. The Galaxy reached MLS Cup in 2009 and 2011 – winning the latter – and are one of the league’s top clubs.

Also, MLS has enjoyed steady growth since Beckham arrived. With new television deals for both the league and the Galaxy as well as the continued development of stadiums and youth academies, the game he came to help grow is seemingly as healthy as its ever been.

All of which came together to provide LA a sales pitch that Beckham – and his family – simply couldn’t turn down.

“We know that David’s first love is his family, but he loves playing the game of soccer,” Arena said. “That means the Galaxy had to be right for him, the league had to be right. By David coming back to LA, he confirms that MLS is making progress, he believes in the sport in America and he believes in the Galaxy.”

Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at buenodad@gmail.com