Holden hails ambassador Beckham

Holden hails ambassador Beckham

Published Feb. 13, 2010 11:38 p.m. ET

David Beckham deserves to be applauded for the way he has raised football's profile across the United States.

That is the verdict of Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden, who has arrived at the Reebok Stadium following a successful spell with Houston Dynamo.

While the Aberdeen-born player is adjusting to life in England, Beckham is getting ready to face his former club Manchester United for the first time.

Now 34, Beckham is hoping to figure for AC Milan on Tuesday when they face Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the Champions League at the San Siro.

Beckham is having a second loan spell at the Italian club from Los Angeles Galaxy and Holden has seen at first hand the remarkable job the England midfielder continues to do in MLS.

Beckham arrived in California in the summer of 2007, signing a five-year deal after leaving Real Madrid.

Holden said: "He brought a buzz to the game. When you think of the world's most famous players, he's probably right at the top of that list.

"His influence at the Galaxy was immense. He sold season tickets, merchandise and shirts when he first arrived, but didn't really inspire many results on the field.

"But last season they saw success and made it to the cup final. He brought a lot of exposure to football in the States.

"While everyone knows it's not the main sport there, hopefully it will be soon.

"The league has a certain infrastructure which is working now. There have been attempts to have professional soccer over there in the past but they went about things in the wrong way."

Holden believes Beckham's influence is far-reaching.

He said: "People underestimate the league. The standard is getting better. The whole thing is really getting going and I honestly think that one day it will be right up there with some of the best leagues in the world.

"It is the most played sport at youth level. The trick is to keep the kids interested when they have gone through the system.

"It helps by having academies and, through people like Beckham, having more of a buzz right throughout the sport.

"There will be two more teams in the MLS next year and I can only see that growing and growing in the future."