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LA Galaxy unveil statue dedicated to David Beckham ahead of MLS season-opener

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A Golden statue for Golden Balls

A statue of David Beckham was unveiled outside LA Galaxy's Dignity Health Sports Park stadium, ahead of the club's 2019 season-opener against Chicago Fire on Saturday. The former England captain, who made 98 appearances for the MLS outfit throughout a five-year period between 2007-2012, called his former team "family" and thanked them for their warm embrace during the ceremony.

Beckham's statue marks the first for an MLS player, with the 43-year-old saying that it was "a dream come true". Former Galaxy team-mate Robbie Keane was also present at the ceremony, alongside rapper Snoop Dogg and basketball legend Koby Bryant.

"I am truly proud you have created something to - a) keep me young and - b) give my family and friends and especially my kids, who can come here one day very soon and see something of their father and see what we created and what I achieved," said Beckham, who owns Inter Miami - the brand new Major League Soccer franchise making their debut in the American top-flight next season.

The ex-Manchester United midfielder won back-to-back Championships with Galaxy in 2011 and 2012, and paved the way for a number of high-profile European footballers who have since joined the MLS toward the back end of their careers. He single-handedly raised the profile of football in the US, with it becoming one of the nation's favoured and most watched sports in recent years.

"I just want to say that this is a very proud day for myself and my family I feel very humbled to be accepted like this by yourselves," Beckham told the crowd.

"From day one, you accepted me like one of your own, I was proud to represent the LA Galaxy for the six years but my proudest moment was giving you guys the championship.

"I'm very thankful to Major League Soccer for believing in me, bringing me to this great country to this great league but more importantly to this great team."

On Friday, Beckham opened a soccer field for underprivileged youth in downtown Los Angeles.

"Taking care of the next generation of soccer stars in this country is really important and we did it in a community that really needed support and a safe environment for children," said the 43-year-old.

Events on the field went as smoothly as off it, as LA Galaxy picked up their first win of the campaign with a 2-1 victory over Chicago Fire.

After initially going a goal down courtesy of a strike from C.J Sapong just after half-time, the hosts hit back with an equaliser just after the hour mark, before star front man Zlatan Ibrahimovic clinched all three points for his side ten minutes from time, turning in a header from close range.