England captain David Beckham, who first caught the eye of Manchester United when he attended a Bobby Charlton soccer school as a 10-year-old, announced the launch of his own soccer academy on Monday.
"I am lucky now to be in a position to put something back into the game and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to create something like this to work with kids," said the 29-year-old Real Madrid midfielder who grew up not far from where the academy will be built.
"As a young boy I attended the Bobby Charlton Soccer School with dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Ever since then I have wanted to give children the chances I had and that dream can now become a reality.
"I am putting a lot of my own money into the project and I see myself being associated with it for many years to come. It's a long-term commitment I will be involved with after the finish of my playing career."
TheAcademy will open on the banks of the River Thames at Greenwich close to the site of the Millennium Dome this summer, with a sister academy opening in Los Angeles later this year.
Anschutz Entertainment Group, in partnership with Beckham, is building an arena and entertainment hub, as part of the theme-park type complex and the academy will be targeted at boys and girls of all ability levels aged between eight and 15.
More than 15,000 children are expected to attend in the first year in London, with 10,000attending free in the first year.
"Iwill pay the whole summer for the children this year," Beckham said at the launch announcement.
The academy has recruited 23coaches to work with the children under the auspices of Eric Harrison, who first coached the young Beckham at Manchester United along with the likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.