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I can handle the criticism: Beckham
August 19, 2003 13:45 IST
England captain David Beckham says he can handle the pressure after getting his first taste of hostility from Spanish fans and media in Sunday's pre-season friendly against Valencia.
After being mobbed on his new club's tour of the Far East, Beckham was whistled and jeered by Valencia fans for a mediocre display.
But, speaking to reporters on Monday at England's training camp before Wednesday's friendly against Croatia, Beckham said: "I'm strong enough to handle it.
"People have told me it is quite harsh over there. It was tough for (Brazilian striker) Ronaldo when he went there and (French midfielder Zinedine) Zidane when he went there for the first six months.
"I'm totally aware of that and totally feel that I can handle that. You always have to prove a point to any team that you step into.
"It's a tough one but it's a challenge I feel I can fulfil. It's a good challenge for me as there are not many English players playing abroad these days and it's an exciting experience for me."
The former Manchester United player said the fuss since his move had taken even him by surprise but said he had no regrets.
"I've put myself into this life, I have always wanted to be a well-known footballer and all the things that come with it are an amazing bonus.
"But the important thing for me is to play football. If that meant jumping off the merry go round and not playing football and not having everything to have a quiet life then no, I wouldn't like that because the important thing to me is playing football."
England's captain took time out to praise the player who has taken his number seven shirt at United, teenage Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
"He is a young lad and obviously a great talent. Man United are lucky to have a talent like that and the fans and the players realise that already.
"With the players that have worn the number seven shirt in the past, like Bryan Robson and George Best, the shirt deserves someone good in it and he looks a great talent."
Beckham also revealed that he had not spoken to United manager Alex Ferguson since his move to Real Madrid but played down suggestions that his soon-to-be released autobiography would lift the lid on his volatile relationship with the Scot.
"I left Man United with a good relationship with the fans and the players and everyone involved in Manchester United so I'd hate to ruin that."
The midfielder is likely to play a bit part against Croatia on Wednesday. He suffered from what he called a "tired" back against Valencia but said he was determined to make the England get-together.
"If I have to prove anything to anyone about my commitment to my country then this is it. I'm the England captain and whether it's a friendly or a qualifying game I want to be here."