FORMER Manchester United icon David Beckham insists Old Trafford kingpin Sir Alex Ferguson remains like a father to him as he prepares to face his old mentor for the first time since leaving the club almost seven years ago.
Beckham, who is on loan at AC Milan from Los Angeles Galaxy, is expecting high emotion and divided loyalties when his latest employers collide with his boyhood team in the first leg of a Champions League last 16 tie tonight.
But the veteran England midfielder is adamant he bears no simmering enmity towards Ferguson, despite their relationship souring towards the end of Beckham’s glorious spell in the Premier League.
“Sir Alex will always be a father figure to me. He always has been and he always will be,” said the 34-year-old, who Ferguson sold to Real Madrid for £25m in 2003.
“No matter what has been said in the past, whether good or bad, I only remember the good times. He was the man who gave me my chance to play for club I had always dreamed of playing for.
“For me they were only good times. Sir Alex is respected throughout football all around the world. Clubs move forwards and it was my time to leave Manchester United in 2003, and I moved on. I definitely hold nothing against the manager, he’s an incredible man.”
Beckham, in his second six-month loan at Milan following an impressive spell in the latter half of last season, has not started the last two games and may have to settle for a cameo off the bench.
And he admits the occasion will cause him inner turmoil as Milan look to maintain their winning record against the Premier League champions in four previous European Cup ties.
“It is going to be an emotional game, but as a Manchester United fan, it’s the first time I am going to want United to lose,” Beckham added. “As an AC Milan player I want to beat Manchester United and to say that as a Man U fan is quite difficult.
“As much as it is emotional for me personally, it is important that we win. I am a Milan player and I want us to play well and progress.”
UTD’S NEMESIS? | PAST MEETINGS
Man Utd have lost all four of their European Cup ties against AC Milan:
1957-58 Milan win 5-2 on aggregate
Man Utd 2-1 Milan, Milan 4-0 Man Utd
1968-69 Milan win 2-1 on agg
Milan 2-0 Man Utd, Man Utd 1-0 Milan
2004-05 Milan win 2-0 on agg
Man Utd 0-1 Milan, Milan 1-0 Man Utd
2006-07 Milan win 5-3 on agg
Man Utd 3-2 Milan, Milan 3-0 Man Utd