David Beckham says there were times he thought his Inter Miami Major League Soccer franchise “might not happen” as his Inter Miami get set to play their first official match when they visit LAFC on Sunday.
It is six years since Beckham exercised an option to own a franchise – included in the deal that brought him to MLS from Real Madrid as a player in 2007.
In the intervening years Beckham was embroiled in arguments over a stadium site, with the club playing 30 miles from Miami before it relocates in 2022.
“It has been a long journey,” the former England captain told a news conference for the launch of the 25th MLS season in New York.
“There was never a moment when I said I would walk away but there were moments when I thought this might not happen.
“I have always loved a challenge. I didn’t realise how big a challenge this was going to be, even down to putting tiles in the showers.”
Beckham – who won two MLS Cups during his time with LA Galaxy – said progress at Inter Miami only started to be made when he teamed up with Jorge Mas in 2017.
Together with brother Jose, the Florida businessmen brought a local knowledge to negotiations that Beckham lacked, allowing positive discussions with local authorities to take place after years of frustration.
“Jorge was the game changer for us,” Beckham, 44, said. “I am not from Miami. I am from east London. I wasn’t getting us anywhere.”
Recent expansion sides Atlanta United and LAFC have made a big impact on MLS.
LAFC have reached the play-offs in both of their two seasons in the league. Atlanta have done even better, reaching the play-offs in three consecutive years and winning the MLS Cup in 2018, their second season in the competition.
“Kicking the first ball this weekend is going to be success for me,” said Beckham, as his side prepare for the start of their MLS Eastern Conference campaign.
“But I didn’t want to be in partnership with someone who was in it for a vanity project. I want my children to be able to say ‘my dad built this club’.”