Beckham regrets leaving Manchester United

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3 -- Los Angeles Galaxy Midfielder David Beckham said in remarks published on Sunday that he regrets ever leaving Manchester United, the English club that catapulted him into the international spotlight.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player David Beckham attends a press conference in Hoboken, New Jersey, July 15, 2009.

"I would like to have stayed at Manchester United" if his relationship with the team's head coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, had not soured prior to his switch to Spain's Real Madrid in June 2003,Beckham told the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).

Beckham moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, and the local team has for two years lent him to A.C. Milan for most of the year, to allow Beckham a chance to win a place in England's World Cup squad this year.

"I went to Real Madrid and in the last year we were successful so I enjoyed that time," Beckham said. "But I would like to have stayed at Manchester United."

Beckham also told the BBC that he felt envious that his former teammates, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who came up through the Manchester United youth teams with him, have stayed at the club.

"But it's a testament to themselves and the club and everything that surrounds them as individuals that they wouldn't be at a clublike Manchester United if they weren't special people and special players," Beckham said.

Beckham will take on his former teammates for the time when A.C. Milan battles Manchester United at the San Siro in Milan, Italy Feb. 16 and at Manchester United March 10.

"Manchester United is so special to me and I have never been back as a player -- so to go back seven years as an A.C. Milan player it doesn't get much more perfect than that and it is an experience I want to cherish," he told the BBC. "It is going to be a special and emotional night."

Beckham signed with one of the two Los Angeles-based Major League Soccer franchises two years ago, and has brought the team to the playoffs. But his relationship with L.A. fans has been rocky, because many feel that Beckham has "gone Hollywood" and is not playing enough for the Galaxy.