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"Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport," said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners AEG. "David not only took our franchise to another level, but he took our sport to another level It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours."
Beckham has been among MLS' top players when healthy throughout his contract, and the gifted playmaker has meshed well with fellow international stars Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan during the Galaxy's past two seasons. Los Angeles got off to a slow start this year, but has played splendidly down the stretch and into the postseason, rolling to a first-round elimination of the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes and a two-game victory over the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference finals.
MLS has grown exponentially during Beckham's tenure as the league's face, expanding to 19 North American teams with record attendance and much-improved broadcast deals. The Galaxy reached the most lucrative television deal in MLS history last year with Time Warner Cable Sports.
"There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the L.A. Galaxy and the league."
Beckham began his pro career with 12 years at Manchester United before his move to Real Madrid. He left for the Galaxy in 2007, building on a worldwide fame that reportedly produces more than $40 million per year in endorsement income.
Beckham played in three World Cups and made a record 115 appearances for England, but wasn't chosen for the Olympic team at the London Games last summer. Beckham still played a role in the Olympic festivities, including a prominent part in the lighting of the Olympic flame in his native east London during the opening ceremonies.
Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, seem comfortable in Los Angeles, where their three sons -- Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz -- attend school. Beckham is a fixture in the Los Angeles Lakers' courtside seats, attending his most recent game with his three sons last Friday.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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