David Beckham was in Philadelphia for just over 12 hours, give or take the amount of time it takes for an airplane to taxi on the runway, as the MLS All-Stars played against Chelsea at PPL Park on Wednesday night.
Beckham had hoped to be a part of the Olympic squad for Great Britain at the Summer Olympics in London, but despite not being selected to represent his country on the field, the ageless star is playing the role of international ambassador for England this week.
He's doing everything he can possibly do for his home country during the Olympics, while still managing to fulfill his responsibilities with MLS for the All-Star Game.
Much to the surprise of nearly everyone at the All-Star game, including other players, the L.A. Galaxy star did more than just fulfill a responsibility on Wednesday night in Chester, Pa., just 10 miles down the road from Philadelphia International Airport. One has to wonder if Beckham stretched on the plane, because when he stepped on the field, he was one of the best players on either side.
Beckham landed in Philadelphia, had one light training session during the day with a host of players he had never competed with before, and played 73 wonderful minutes controlling the pace of play for the MLS All-Stars as they defeated Chelsea 3-2.
Frank Lampard was Beckham's opponent on Wednesday night, but showed the utmost respect for his compatriot's effort.
"It's brilliant," Lampard told reporters after the match. "David has such a responsibility back in our country, how he behaves, the statesman he's become.
"He is an ambassador. He made the Olympics come to London–he was a huge part of the team that brought the Olympics to London. That's why he's playing such a big part in that back home for us.
"To fly back and forth and back and forth and play like he did tonight, he's a machine. He's 37 or 38 years of age and he's fit, can play balls in the midfield like he did (in the MLS All-Star game), it shows everything about him."
Beckham did show a tiny bit of rust early in the match as he tried to hook up with Thierry Henry—another international icon playing for the MLS All-Stars—but couldn't find the striker on a through ball. Henry looked frustrated initially, but the more the two played together and the more time Beckham logged with everyone on the MLS side, the more comfortable he seemed.
Henry echoed the sentiments of Lampard, lauding the effort of Beckham and talking about how great players with as much experience as they have don't often need a lot of time to get on the same page.
"It's not easy, Henry admitted. "I mean, Becks didn't even train–one light training session. I thought at times we looked like we've been playing together for a very long time.
"I guess if you play with some guys who have kind of the same football IQ then that's what you get. You can win or lose this game at the end of the day, because it's a friendly, but I hope that everybody enjoyed it, and we were happy with the way we played.
"I thought at times, we played some great stuff."
I had hoped to ask Beckham these questions after the match as well, to get a sense of the whirlwind week he's having flying back and forth across the Atlantic in a day—he may have as many as four trans-Atlantic treks in a week—but by the time reporters got to the mixed zone, he was gone, sneaking out the back door of PPL Park on his way to the airport.
He will have seven hours to sleep on the plane, give or take the time the amount of time it takes for an airplane to taxi on the runway.
When Beckham wakes up, he'll put on another smile as one of the prominent faces of the Olympic Games—an event in which he's not even competing—fresh off a fantastic performance in the MLS All-Star game an ocean away.
Lampard was right. The man is a machine.
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