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David Beckham hailed by his peers as LA Galaxy stint ends

Goodbye America, it's been magical! Beckham hailed by his peers after dazzling USA

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UPDATED:

23:23 GMT, 2 December 2012

How do you know when you’ve made it in America Public endorsements from national icons certainly do not do any harm.

‘David Beckham, thank you for making pro soccer relevant in the USA,’ tweeted Magic Johnson, the former LA Lakers basketball star in the run-up to his neighbour’s final game in the MLS on Saturday afternoon.

Beckham is not short of famous friends in California. On Friday he told how he recently called up Michael Jordan for a restaurant recommendation during a visit to Chicago. This, over the last six years, has gradually become the life of the former England captain.

Family party: David Beckham shares the glory with his sons Brooklyn Beckham, Cruz Beckham and Romeo Beckham

Family party: David Beckham shares the glory with his sons Brooklyn Beckham, Cruz Beckham and Romeo Beckham

Paying tribute: Beckham was much loved by the Galaxy fans

Paying tribute: Beckham was much loved by the Galaxy fans

Famous friends: Magic Johnson tweeted about Beckham to thank him

Famous friends: Magic Johnson tweeted about Beckham to thank him

Early on Saturday evening, though,
Beckham received a tribute from his peers that — set against the
background of his time in the States — perhaps meant more to him as he
celebrated LA Galaxy’s 3-1 Cup final victory over Houston Dynamo in the
dressing room of the Home Depot Center.

‘One more year, one more year, one
more year,’ was the spontaneous song from Beckham’s Galaxy team-mates
as he prepared to say his farewells. Quite something, that, from a group
of players who as recently as 2009 were questioning his commitment to
their cause.

Moments later Beckham sat in the press
conference next to Landon Donovan, the colleague who famously said
three years ago: ‘I can’t say he’s a good team-mate. He’s not shown
that. At a minimum you should bust your ass every day. That hasn’t
happened.’ Here, in the aftermath of victory, was Donovan’s latest take.

Fond farewell: Beckham crowned his six year spell with LA Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Fond farewell: Beckham crowned his six year spell with LA Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Impact: Beckham is hailed by the adoring Galaxy fans

Impact: Beckham is hailed by the adoring Galaxy fans

‘David’s demeanour earlier this season
was overwhelming,’ Donovan said. ‘All the players were saying it. We
were struggling but he simply influenced people.

‘Players bought in to what he was saying and here, months later, we have our reward.’

Donovan is a complicated character,
one currently contemplating his own future in MLS. His tribute to
Beckham, though, appeared genuine and in tune with much of what has
recently been said here about the league’s most famous player.

There will, of course, not be one more
year for the 37-year-old Beckham. He leaves America as a winner and
that will be important to him. It was the way he left Manchester United
in 2003, and Real Madrid in 2007 too. He will not be back.

Equally pertinent, though, is that he
leaves believing he has ultimately kept his side of the bargain he
struck when he arrived in LA at the relatively young age of 31.

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Questions about his commitment, about
the sincerity of his oft-stated belief in the future of MLS, dogged his
early years in Los Angeles.

On Saturday night, though, he left the field embraced not only as an Englishman abroad but as one of the league’s very own.

This has been a difficult journey at
times. Loan spells in Milan in 2009 and 2010 raised understandable
questions about his priorities, as indeed did his early returns to
England to extend his inter-national career.

To be here on Saturday, though, was to realise that America now loves Beckham just as much as Beckham loves America.

‘If this had been a failed experience
with David then it would really have set us back as a league,’ said MLS
commissioner Don Garber. ‘But it hasn’t been. It has, in the end, been
enormously successful.’

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Once upon a time, Beckham looked up
from the Home Depot field to see banners telling him to ‘go home’. It
wasn’t only Donovan who wondered where his heart and mind really lay.

On Saturday, though, the slogans pleaded: ‘Please take us with you,’ and declared: ‘David we will miss you.’

Garber added: ‘It took time for David
to find his legs here and get used to things. There were some trials and
tribulations with the loans in the early part. They created issues.

‘But we look back now and see that we
had a lot of “full-time David” and that “full-time David” over-delivered
on a lot of levels.

‘There are very few people in the world who don’t know about MLS now and that’s because David’s been here.’

As is often the case in America,
perspective is required. Off-the-field measures in MLS suggest muted
improvement during the Beckham years.

Average attendances have risen from
15,500 per match to 18,800. There are now 19 franchises in the MLS,
compared to 13 in Beckham’s first season. Television viewing figures,
meanwhile, remain fairly stagnant, with just over a million people
tuning in to watch Beckham on Saturday.

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

The great, sprawling monsters of
American football, basketball and baseball are not under any threat from
what remains a minority sport and an admission from the Galaxy on
Friday that they are targeting the Brazilian Kaka as Beckham’s
replacement in a bid to attract Hispanic TV audiences suggests some
decisions are still being made for reasons not entirely centred on
sport.

Nevertheless, it can be argued that Beckham’s presence in LA has, latterly, helped to inch the game forwards.

‘When David came here people overseas
described it as a retirement league,’ said Garber. ‘Now people can see
it’s much more competitive.’

At Home Depot on Saturday, Beckham was
feted. Win or lose, this was set up to be his day. Playing in his now
familiar deep midfield role, he passed the ball very well.

He may not be able to run like he
once could. As a football technician, though, he remains imperious and
his control over a football — his judgment of weight and distance — is
as exquisite as ever.

Joking with a team-mate last week,
Beckham likened himself to the New England Patriots quarter-back Tom
Brady, only to be told: ‘No, man, you are not that good.’

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

It’s easy to see his point, though. On
Saturday, given the time and space a 37-year-old needs, he increasingly
dictated the rhythm of the game as Galaxy recovered from a half-time
deficit to win.

When they earned a last-minute
penalty, it looked momentarily as though Beckham might take it. Some
farewell that would have been, but common sense dictated otherwise and,
after Robbie Keane had sealed victory from 12 yards, Beckham departed
the stage to a generous ovation.

Where he goes next is the question. In
all honesty a place in a top European side looks some way beyond him.
For now, though, he will lay that issue to one side.

‘This is a good day,’ Beckham said. ‘I
tell my children every day that if you want something you have to put
in the hard graft. I think I have done that here. It’s been a successful
six years.

‘All I hope is that people have enjoyed watching me play. My impact here will have to be judged by others.’

David Beckham wins MLS Cup in final LA Galaxy match

Beckham's Hollywood ending: England legend signs off by helping Galaxy to MLS Cup glory… but where next for Goldenballs

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UPDATED:

10:07 GMT, 2 December 2012

David Beckham had his heart set on leaving LA Galaxy with the MLS Cup as a parting gift and it was fitting he should be the architect of a second-half comeback to beat their old rivals here at the Home Depot Center.

The 37-year-old former England captain conjured up a vintage display in central midfield and the crowd rose to acclaim their No 23 when he was substituted seconds before the end.

Anybody questioning the impact
Beckham has made on a sport which still has a long way to go to catch up
established American games such as gridiron and baseball, would have to
acknowledge his popularity with the fans. There were banners all round
the ground proclaiming ‘Thanks David’ and ‘We love Beckham’ while fans
were wearing T-shirts with slogans such as ‘Beckham — take me with you’
and ‘Beckham you rocked the Galaxy’.

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

‘It is a special day for us to win it
here at our home, in front of our home fans,’ said an emotional
Beckham, who again hinted that he would soon be involved in the MLS as a
club owner.

‘It is a sad day as well. This is a special place for me and will continue to be a special place.

More trophies: Beckham's glittering career has yet another successful chapter

More trophies: Beckham's glittering career has yet another successful chapter

Champions: Landon Donovan reacts after scoring the crucial penalty

Champions: Landon Donovan reacts after scoring the crucial penalty

Decisive intervention: David Beckham and Christian Wilhelmsson celebrate with Landon Donovan after the latter slots home a penalty in the second half to put Galaxy 2-1 ahead

Decisive intervention: David Beckham and Christian Wilhelmsson celebrate with Landon Donovan after the latter slots home a penalty in the second half to put Galaxy 2-1 ahead

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

‘I have no idea where I will go next.
I do know that I am happy to have been part of this club for six years
and been successful for the last four years.

‘I will continue with my commitment
to this league. I might not be playing here any more but my commitment
to growing this sport and this league will continue.’

Bending it: Beckham fires in a trademark delivery

Bending it: Beckham fires in a trademark delivery

This tight little stadium is far from
the biggest in the MLS but temporary seating installed for the occasion
and the opening of the huge grassy bank towering over one of the goals
had boosted the capacity from 27,000 to 30,000.

The untypical Los Angeles weather —
drizzling rain on Friday and squally showers before the game — made the
grass slippery but it hardly put off the fans. They braved the
conditions, spreading their blankets and feasting on hot dogs and Buds
well before kick-off.

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Of course, the main item on the
agenda was Galaxy’s attempt to retain the Philip F Anschultz Trophy,
awarded to the winners of the MLS championship in a repeat of last
year’s final. Having reached their record eighth final, Galaxy have now
equalled DC United’s feat of four titles.

But it was almost a foregone
conclusion. If Beckham could have picked opposition least likely to
spoil his farewell party, it would have been the Dynamo who have now
lost their last six games at the Home Depot.

Ambassador: David Beckham (right) before the game with Robbie Keane (centre)

Ambassador: David Beckham (right) before the game with Robbie Keane (centre)

Hands on: Ricardo Clark gets to grips with Beckham in the first half

Hands on: Ricardo Clark gets to grips with Beckham in the first half

Beckham engineered the 13th-minute
move which should have seen Galaxy take the lead with a 30-yard ball to
Robbie Keane, whose pass left Landon Donovan with the goal at his mercy
but the striker shot wide.

A 19th-minute free-kick from the
right-side of the box produced an even worse miss with Mike Magee, two
yards out, somehow contriving to head off target. They were misses that
Galaxy came to rue when, a minute before half-time, Calen Carr broke
down the Houston right, took advantage of sloppy defending by Tommy
Meyer and lifted a right footer into the top of the net to stun the home
fans.

The last time: David Beckham walks out alongside sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz

The last time: David Beckham walks out alongside sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz

Job done: Beckham and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena chat to the media after the game

Job done: Beckham and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena chat to the media after the game

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Galaxy hit back with two goals in
four minutes. Omar Gonzalez headed them level in the 61st minute and a
Donovan penalty gave them the lead. It was left to Keane to put the
icing on the cake with a second penalty in added time.

Beckham has been cagey about where he
will go next. France, and particularly Monaco, remain a favourable
option but he has been impressed with overtures from China. For now,
though, he will just enjoy the Hollywood ending to his LA career.

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo live – David Beckham farewell

LIVE: LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo – follow David Beckham's US farewell in the MLS Cup final

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 1 December 2012

Tonight David Beckham plays his final match for Los Angeles Galaxy before leaving for one last challenge in football. Sportsmail will bring you all the latest news from the Home Depot Center as Beckham aims to leave on a high by defending the MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo.

18min Great chance! Beckham with a peach of a free-kick from the right and Mike Magee, five yards out, really should have found the net with a diving header.

Seconds later, Wilhelmsson appealing vocally for a penalty after racing clear. No chance, replied the referee.

16min Chance up the other end for Calen Carr who audaciously tries to flick the ball in from a left-wing cross. But he's a long way out and it sails comfortably over the bar.

14min A little delay while Houston's Brad Davis received attention from the physio. Becks really finding his range now, locating Wilhelmsson with a lovely ball out wide.

Update from our man in LA:

'Almost 15 minutes gone and Galaxy should be ahead. Beckham’s raking pass from his own half set Robbie Keane clear down the left. Keane did the right thing and squared the ball to Landon Donovan, who only had to slide it in to the net from ten yards. He didn’t. He side-footed it wide. I would have scored. Really, I would.'

12min What a chance missed by the Galaxy! Beckham, glorious 60-yard diagonal ball to Keane who sprints forward and puts it on a plate for Donovan. But, with the whole stadium ready to erupt, he slips it wide of the post. Very out of character for the former Everton man to miss that.

10min The Galaxy are enjoying the majority of possession now and feeling their way into the game. The Home Depot Center has a weird grassy area above one of the stands which is sparsely populated compared to the sold-out stands elsewhere.

7min First involvement for Robbie Keane, whose persistence created a half-chance for Landon Donovan, whose shot dribbles harmlessly to the goalkeeper.

Landon going for his fifth MLS title today.

5min Quick thinking from Beckham, who lofts a free-kick into the path of Christian Wilhelmsson. The ball skips away off the turf and into the hands of Hall.

4min it's been a nervy start for Saunders in net for the Galaxy, flapping at a couple of crosses. Ian Ladyman writes:

'We are underway at the Home Depot Center and Beckham is
sporting the most wonderful pair of pink boots. Just in case he is hard to pick
out. His first touch saw him dumped on his backside while it’s Houston who had
the first chance, midfielder Ricardo Clark – yes, the Ricardo Clark – seeing
his angles shot beaten away by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. The Houston
goalie, by the way, is called Tally Hall. I don’t know why I find that amusing,
I just do.'

1min First involvement for Beckham and he's brought down just inside the Houston half – nothing given.

Strong start from the Dynamo, with Ricardo Clark stinging the palms of LA Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders.

21.57 HOUSTON GET THE 2012 MLS CUP FINAL UNDERWAY

21.54 The commentators are discussing how this could also be Landon Donovan's farewell. But he's only 30, seven years younger than Beckham. If it is to be the case, his departure is likely to be part of a massive Galaxy post-season shake-up. There is speculation that Kaka is on his way over from Real Madrid and maybe even Frank Lampard from Chelsea.

21.52 Understandably given how they outnumber their visitors, the Galaxy fans can be heard loudest. They'll want to see one of these tonight:

21.49 There seems to be a whole legion of young mascots – each of the Galaxy players seems to have three each! No sightings of Victoria and the kids yet…

21.47 Here we go! The two teams are walking out, passing in front of the Galaxy fans behind one of the goals. Dramatic music sets the tone. Fireworks fizz into the sky from colourful flags.

Houston looking very Blackpool-like in their tangerine kits, while the Galaxy are in their traditional all-white.

21.46 Ian Ladyman updates us as we move closer to kick-off:

'It’s almost time for the teams to emerge here. The rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Maybe it is to be a golden farewell for Beckham, after all. Home advantage looks like being significant for Galaxy. The Houston fans are located in one tiny corner of the stadium and there only looks to be about 1500 or so of them. Welcome to a cup final the American way.'

Abide With Me, anyone

21.44 Here's a couple more homemade Beckham tribute efforts..

Nice one Dav... A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Nice one Dav… A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Fans with banners for LA Galaxy's David Beckham ahead of the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center,

21.40 Twenty minutes until the big kick-off and the stadium is almost full. Even the sun has come out, which will please Ian Ladyman. The home Ultras can be heard getting the atmosphere started.

21.37 This is Tinseltown, so there's bound to be a bit of celebrity interest. Here's actor Gerard Butler being shown to his seat (look how happy he looks):

Actor Gerard Butler arrives before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center, Los Angeles, USA

21.33 And here, ladies and gentlemen, are your team line-ups:

LA Galaxy: (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Gonzalez, Meyer, Franklin, Magee, Juninho, Beckham, Wilhelmsson, Keane, Donovan

Subs: DeLagarza, Gaul, Noonan, Stephens, Sarvas, Perk, Buddle

Houston Dynamo: (4-4-2) Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Boswell, Sarkodie, Moffat, Clark, Davis, Garcia, Bruin, Carr

Subs: Weaver, Ching, Hainault, Kandji, Camargo, Deric, Barnes

21.32 Here's your stat pack for the match:

– This final sees two of the most successful MLS teams against each other – The Galaxy are competing in their eighth final and chasing a fourth win, which could match DC United for the most wins. The Dynamo are playing in the final for the fourth time in the seven year history of their franchise, having won it in 2006 and 2007.
– In the team's single meeting this season, on May 26, Houston won 2-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium – Edson Buddle gave the Galaxy a tenth minute lead but an own goal from Mike Magee levelled the scores and Andre Hainault grabbed the winner after 57 minutes.
– This final is the meeting of the lowest combined seeds ever to reach the championship match – Galaxy finished fourth in the Western division, Houston were fifth in the Eastern.
– Their regular season head-to-head record is very close – Each has six wins apiece with four draws. The goals have been scored 19-18 in Houston's favour
– Houston will be looking to end a Western dominance in the competition, with nine of the last eleven finals going West.

21.23 But, of course, there are 21 other players on the field tonight, including Team USA's greatest ever forward Landon Donovan and another familiar name Robbie Keane, who has been in outstanding form.

Houston, meanwhile, have Glaswegian Adam Moffat in midfield, formerly of Ross County and Elgin City, and Ricardo Clark, whom you might recall from the 2010 World Cup.

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy

21.15 It may be all banners and tributes tonight, but remember that it wasn't so long ago that Beckham was being criticised by fans and teammates alike for being over-papped, over-paid and over here.

But he's slowly won them over, scoring 20 goals in his 116 LA Galaxy appearances over the last six years and helping them to three MLS Cup finals.

21.13 There's some history here… In fact, tonight's match is a rerun of last year's MLS Cup final, also played at the Home Depot. Here's a reminder of how that went:

21.09 But while most of us are hoping for a fantasy farewell for Beckham as he packs he bags for the south of France or wherever else he's wanted, this game isn't going to be easy.

The Galaxy have certainly struck form at the right time – after scraping into the play-offs following a fourth place finish in the Western Conference, they have overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders to make the final.

Meanwhile, Houston finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, meaning they had to overcome Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls and DC United to get this far.

21.05 The man of the moment has arrived, looking debonair as usual in his LA Galaxy suit. Meanwhile, all around the Home Depot, which is of course the home of the Galaxy, the supporters have prepared their own tributes.

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Fans of LA Galaxy's David Beckham display banners before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center

21.02 Manchester to Madrid to Los Angeles (via short stop-offs in Preston and Milan)… That has been the career path of David Beckham over the past two decades.

Who knows what the future may hold – the man himself doesn't, as Ian Ladyman found out when he caught up with Becks at Galaxy training this week.

And our man in California has this to start setting the scene:

'It’s all rather ‘Manchester’ here in Los Angeles as kick-off approaches. The sun did show its face over Venice Beach this morning but it’s raining here in Carson as the supporters start to gather inside Home Depot. They are expecting a full-house of just over 30,000 and have even erected some temporary seating to squeeze a few more in. We hope it’s going to be worth it.'

21.00 The latest chapter in the tale of David Beckham has almost been written – but just one blank page remains.

Will it be the fairytale finale to his American adventure or a crushing disappointment that forces him to eek another few years out of those golden legs

A warm welcome to our coverage of the 2012 MLS Cup final between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo – Beckham's farewell appearance.

Kick-off is fast approaching and you won't miss a moment here with us.

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Didier Drogba could rejoin Chelsea on emergency loan

Chelsea could launch shock swoop to bring Drogba back as veteran hitman asks FIFA for emergency loan switch

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UPDATED:

13:43 GMT, 21 November 2012

Didier Drogba has asked FIFA for special permission to move on loan from his Chinese club despite being outside the official transfer window and Chelsea are keen to re-sign the striker.

FIFA said Wednesday it is considering the former Chelsea forward's request for an exemption from international rules and Sportsmail understands that the Stamford Bridge club are keen for the striker to return to west London, even if it is just for a month.

'The FIFA administration services are looking into it,' FIFA said in a statement.

Come back Didier Drogba wants to move on loan to prepare for the African Cup of Nations

Come back Didier Drogba wants to move on loan to prepare for the African Cup of Nations

Drogba's season with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua finished this month.

If FIFA grants Drogba's request, the 34-year-old Ivory Coast captain could play for a new team to prepare for the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on January 19 in South Africa.

Existing rules prevent Drogba from representing another club until January 1.

FIFA has upheld the rules in previous cases when David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan had to wait until January to make loan moves to Europe after the Major League Soccer season ended.

Flying visit: Didier Drogba made a visit to Chelsea's Cobham training base back in August and was pictured with John Mikel Obi, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic

Flying visit: Didier Drogba made a visit to Chelsea's Cobham training base back in August and was pictured with John Mikel Obi, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic

Drogba signed a contract through 2014 with Shanghai weeks after helping Chelsea win the Champions League title in May. He scored an 88th-minute equalizer against Bayern Munich, then struck the winning penalty in the shootout.

Drogba is an iconic figure in Chelsea history and was back at Stamford Bridge on November 11 to see his old team draw 1-1 with Liverpool.

Chelsea appeared to be missing his powerful presence Tuesday in a 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League, which led to manager Roberto Di Matteo being sacked early Wednesday.

Even if FIFA relented and Chelsea was allowed to sign Drogba on a short-term contract, he could not play in its must-win final group match against Nordsjaelland on December 5.

Crowning glory: Didier Drogba won the Champions League with Chelsea in his final game for the club

Crowning glory: Didier Drogba won the Champions League with Chelsea in his final game for the club

Champions League teams must register their squad lists for the group stage with UEFA in September before their first match.

Speaking earlier this month, Drogba
indicated that he would be keen to return to Chelsea to train ahead of
the tournament, but not play.

He
said: 'If everyone agrees, it is possible I will go and train there
until the African Cup starts. But that is all it will be.'

But
that could change now that Chelsea will look to do all they can to haul themselves back
into the title race.

Drogba joined Chelsea in 2004 from Marseille, where he was also hugely popular despite playing for only one season, helping it reach the UEFA Cup final.

He has often said he wants to return to Marseille one day, but club president Vincent Labrune thinks his wages would be too high for cash-strapped Marseille, which sold key players like midfielder Alou Diarra and utility player Stephane M'Bia to raise funds.

Fancy seeing you here: Wenger has refused to rule out re-signing Henry

Fancy seeing you here: Wenger has refused to rule out re-signing Henry

'Obviously I'm in favor of all great players who are capable of making financial sacrifices,' Labrune said Tuesday on RMC radio. 'If Lionel Messi wants to come, I'm in favor. But we're talking for nothing.'

Liverpool are also in desperate need
of a striker and if FIFA grant permission for the move to go ahead then
Brendan Rodgers could be tempted to make a move for the striker.

The
Ivorian is not the only former striker who could return to the Premier
League on a short-term deal. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to
rule out a second loan move for New York Red Bulls striker Henry.

Wenger said he would make a decision
in January but admitted it was a tempting prospect given Henry's
qualities and the fact Arsenal will be 'short' of strikers in the new
year owing to the Africa Cup of Nations.

The
Arsenal manager said: 'You know what Thierry gives you: he gives you
hope, especially when he comes on (as a substitute). That is the most
important thing.

'He is a communicator, an extrovert and
very intelligent. I had always resisted (bringing him back). Last year I
did it because we lost Gervinho.

'This year we lose Gervinho again as
they are playing the Africa Cup of Nations two years in a row. So we
will be confronted with a shortage – particularly if (Marouane) Chamakh
should go. Then we will be short.'

FA Cup First Round: Macclesfield dump out Di Canio"s Swindon

FA Cup First Round: Macclesfield dump out Di Canio's Swindon

PUBLISHED:

18:01 GMT, 3 November 2012

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 3 November 2012

Non-league Macclesfield pulled off the biggest shock in the first round of the FA Cup when they won 2-0 at League One high-flyers Swindon.

The Silkmen were not the only non-league side to beat Football League teams with Chelmsford, Hereford and Harrogate also moving into the second round at the expense of so-called superior opposition.

Silkmen strike: Macclesfield's Tony Diagne (left) scores his side's first goal

Silkmen strike: Macclesfield's Tony Diagne (left) scores his side's first goal

Macclesfield are sixth in the Blue
Square Bet Conference Premier and they took the lead in the 63rd minute
through a stunning long-range strike from Tony Diagne.

Things went from bad to worse for Paolo di Canio's Robins when moments later Aiden Flynn was sent off for the second
time in four games when he was given a straight red card for a challenge
on Macclesfield midfielder Sam Wedgebury.

The giant-killing over the team just outside the play-offs was sealed when Louis Thompson scored an own goal at the death.

Conference South team Chelmsford beat Colchester – 12th in League One – 3-1.

The hosts went ahead against their
local rivals when Anthony Cook fired home from distance in the 23rd
minute and they moved closer to an upset when Donovan Simmonds headed
into the net in the 63rd minute.

Pride of Essex: Chelmsford City players celebrate with the crowd following their 3-1 win over Colchester

Pride of Essex: Chelmsford City players celebrate with the crowd following their 3-1 win over Colchester

Colchester pulled one back seven
minutes later through Michael Rose's long-range free-kick but Jamie
Slabber sealed victory late on.

Torquay had an unbeaten home record
which had guided them to seventh in League Two but they went down 1-0 to
Harrogate Town. Chib Chilaka scored the only goal after 20 minutes to
send the Conference North side into the second round.

Hereford, 14th in the Conference
Premier, provided the first shock of the day when they dumped out League
One Shrewsbury 3-1 thanks to two goals by Ryan Bowman.

Will Evans gave the hosts a
third-minute lead, slotting Chris Todd's header into the bottom left of
the goal. Hereford doubled their lead nine minutes later through Ryan
Bowman's fierce shot.

Luke Summerfield's free-kick halved the deficit on the half-hour but Bowman's second, a penalty, wrapped up victory.

Lincoln, 19th in the Conference
Premier, were on the brink of an upset when they led League One Walsall
1-0 thanks to Jamie Taylor's strike in first-half injury time.

However, George Bowerman headed an equaliser three minutes from full time.

League Two Rotherham beat Stevenage,
fourth in League One, 3-2. Mark Bradley (30) fired the Millers ahead
with on-loan Lee Frecklington (53, 56) apparently putting the match out
of Stevenage's reach.

James Dunne pulled one back two
minutes later with Filipe Morais making it 3-2 with a little under 20
minutes remaining but the South Yorkshire side held on.

League Two Chesterfield hammered
League One basement side Hartlepool 6-1. Scott Boden (16), Mark Randall
(29) and Craig Clay (42) gave the Spireites a 3-0 half-time lead.

Terrell Forbes (54) made it four and
while Antony Sweeney pulled one back (78), Jack Lester (79) and Craig
Westcarr (90) rounded off a humiliation for the visitors.

Hendon, of the Isthmian League
Premier Division, threatened an upset when they went ahead at League Two
strugglers Aldershot, plumber Dean Cracknell firing an unstoppable
volley (28).

However, Danny Hylton levelled 13 minutes after the break before he powered home a late winner.

Sheffield United were the
highest-ranked team playing today but the team second in League One were
given a scare when David Clarkson took advantage of some slack Blades
defending to put Bristol Rovers ahead in the fifth minute.

However, Nick Blackman equalised
eight minutes after the break with an unstoppable shot across the keeper
and Chris Porter won the game nine minutes later.

Crawley won 2-1 at the Met Police.
Josh Simpson (36) and Billy Clarke (69) put the visitors 2-0 up and
although Alan Tait pulled one back (83), the Isthmian Premier League
side could not nick an equaliser.

League Two high-flyers Port Vale
survived a comeback at Forest Green when the Conference Premier Division
side hit back from two goals down to pull level at 2-2.

Ben Williamson restored the league side's lead against the run of play 10 minutes from time to give them a 3-2 victory.

League Two leaders Gillingham hammered League One strugglers Scunthorpe 4-0.

There were also wins for League One
sides Doncaster, Notts County, Bournemouth, Brentford, Carlisle, Oldham,
Crewe, Coventry, Preston and Bury.

Cheltenham, third in League Two, despatched Yate Town, the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, 3-0.

League Two trio Fleetwood, Oxford
and Accrington all made it through as did Hastings United and Alfreton
from all non-league ties.

There will be replays for York against Wimbledon, Morecambe v Rochdale and Northampton v Bradford.

Guiseley and Barrow will meet again as will Luton and Nuneaton and Mansfield v Slough in all non-league ties.

Landon Donovan considers Everton snub… to go travelling

Rejoin Everton I think I may go travelling instead, reveals loan star Donovan

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UPDATED:

09:20 GMT, 24 October 2012

Landon Donovan has admitted he may snub a third loan return to Everton in favour of going travelling across the globe.

The USA forward is loved at Goodison Park following his impressive but short stints at the club in 2010 and again last winter, and boss David Moyes would be ready to welcome the LA Galaxy star back with open arms.

Donovan conceded Everton 'was a fling that grew into a full-blown affair' but insisted he needs some time to think over his future in football before committing to any move.

Galaxy of stars: USA forward Landon Donovan (second left) alongside David Beckham and Robbie Keane in action for Los Angeles in the MLS

Galaxy of stars: Landon Donovan (second left) with David Beckham and Robbie Keane in the MLS (above) and at Everton in 2010 (below left) and 2012 (right)

Fans' favourite: Donovan (left)

On the ball: Donovan

The 30-year-old American even suggested he might quit the game due to prolonged spells away from his family.

And, like countless people before him looking to 'discover themselves', Donovan wants to go globetrotting and ponder his future.

'Right now, I need time to think and that is impossible to achieve while I am playing,' Donovan told EPSN.

'I need to determine if I want to play, and if the answer is yes, I need to work out where and for how long.

'I plan to spend a lot of time travelling to distant places, alone. I am not sure where.

'I want to take time to have some freedom and not worry about my next game or being fit. It may take me two weeks, two months or a year.

'I don’t plan on worrying about the end result. I want to focus on being present and making the decision when I am ready.

'I am at a point where I realize that if I am to come back I need to do so with the right mindset.'

Despite Donovan's present difficulties, he admits a third spell on Merseyside could yet beckon.

'Everton was a fling that grew into a full-blown affair. I do think about them because they really stole my heart when I walked into Goodison Park,' he said.

'Everyone was so unbelievably welcoming, from Mr Moyes to the tea lady. I have such affection for the club.

'But I’ve struggled with motivation at many points in my career. I’ve had times where it all came easily but there have been stretches where I have questioned it.

'I have some selfish things I need to do, and I have some things to work out. While most soccer fans think a player’s life is easy as we just seem to play soccer all the time, they don’t see how many milestones I have missed with my family.

'My family want me to either play and be happy or else to have their son and brother back.'

MLS All Stars 3 Chelsea 2: John Terry and Frank Lampard strikes not enough

MLS All Stars 3 Chelsea 2: Lampard and Terry strike but Beckham and co fight back

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UPDATED:

06:57 GMT, 26 July 2012

John Terry and Frank Lampard scored as Chelsea suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Major League Soccer All Stars at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Terry and Lampard's goals had put the Champions League winners 2-1 ahead in the second half but the MLS All Stars hit back to draw level before snatching a late winner.

Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius and Eddie Johnson scored for an All Stars side which featured David Beckham and Thierry Henry.

Reunited: Chelsea's John Terry (left) and MLS All-Stars' David Beckham shake hands

Reunited: Chelsea's John Terry (left) and MLS All-Stars' David Beckham shake hands

First-half lead: John Terry (above) and Frank Lampard (below) struck for Chelsea

First-half lead: John Terry (above) and Frank Lampard (below) struck for Chelsea

First-half lead: John Terry (above) and Frank Lampard (below) struck for Chelsea

All Stars: Beckham (above) and Henry (below) were in action for the MLS

All Stars: Beckham (above) and Henry (below) were in action for the MLS

San Jose Earthquakes forward Wondolowski
opened the scoring with a shot after 21 minutes but Terry levelled
things up with a header from Lampard's corner just after the half hour
mark.

Chelsea, who played summer signings Eden Hazard and Marko Marin, went ahead when Lampard shot home from close range after 58 minutes.

DC United's Pontius equalised with 17 minutes to go and Johnson, formerly of Fulham, won the game with a goal in injury time.

Also featuring for the All Stars were former Watford defender Jay DeMerit and ex-Everton loanee Landon Donovan.

Up for the cup: All Stars captain Dwayne De Rosario lifts the trophy after the match

Up for the cup: All Stars captain Dwayne De Rosario lifts the trophy after the match

All Stars: Beckham (above) and Henry (below) were in action for the MLS

Blue is the colour: Chelsea fans were out in full force in Pennsylvania

Blue is the colour: Chelsea fans were out in full force in Pennsylvania

David Beckham scores stunning free kick for LA Galaxy

Any regrets, Stuart Beckham shows Pearce he can still bend it with the best

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UPDATED:

07:05 GMT, 15 July 2012

David Beckham claimed a classy double to show Great Britain manager Stuart Pearce what he was missing as the Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Portland Timbers 5-3.

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd put the Timbers ahead in the third minute, but Beckham levelled in the 20th minute with an exquisite curling strike from 35 yards.

Scroll down to watch the video

Precision: David Beckham scores a free kick for LA Galaxy as they beat the Portland Timbers

Precision: David Beckham scores a free kick for LA Galaxy as they beat the Portland Timbers

The former Real Madrid man, left out of
the British Olympic squad by Pearce, then put the Galaxy ahead four
minutes later with a trademark free-kick, Landon Donovan made it 3-1
from the penalty spot three minutes later and Robbie Keane got in on the
act just a minute after that.

And, although Kosuke Kimura and Boyd pulled goals back for the Timbers, they sandwiched Keane's second of the night – in which Beckham also had a hand – to ensure the result was never in question.

Sporting Kansas City beat the Columbus Crew 2-0 to take sole possession of the lead in the MLS Eastern Conference.

Praise me: Beckham celebrates in front of the crowd (above) and with his team-mates (below)

Praise me: Beckham celebrates in front of the crowd (above) and with his team-mates (below)

Praise me: Beckham celebrates in front of the crowd (above) and with his team-mates (below)

Peterson Joseph set up Jacob Peterson
for the first in the sixth minute and Teal Bunbury added a second eight
minutes from the end.

Chris Wondolowski scored a hat-trick as the Western Conference-leading San Jose Earthquakes beat 10-man Real Salt Lake 5-0.

The Quakes were 1-0 up through Wondolowski when Kyle Beckerman was sent off in the 58th minute and they took full advantage.

Main man: Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his goal for the LA Galaxy

Main man: Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his goal for the LA Galaxy

Alan Gordon and substitute Simon Dawkins both scored, while Wondolowski bagged two more to complete his hat-trick.

Carlos Rodriguez scored two minutes after stepping off the bench to start an FC Dallas comeback as they beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1.

Rodriguez netted in the 60th minute to cancel out Omar Cummings' opener 10 minutes earlier, before Fabian Castillo netted the winner nine minutes from the end.

Carlos Valdes' last-minute strike gave the Philadelphia Union a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact.

Keon Daniel's 89th-minute own goal seemed to have rescued a point for the Impact seven minutes after Lionard Pajoy had opened the scoring, but Valdes intervened to win it for Philadelphia.

Pavel Pardo's ninth-minute goal gave the Chicago Fire a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps despite Arne Friedrich's 69th-minute dismissal and Luis Silva scored the only goal of the game as Toronto FC won by the same scoreline at the New England Revolution.

Euro 2012: Robbie Keane pays tribute to Ireland fan James Nolan

Robbie was Keane to pay tribute to Ireland fan Nolan after Galaxy goal

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UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 24 June 2012

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane paid tribute to the family of Irish football fan James Nolan after scoring a goal in LA Galaxy's 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

Nolan, 21, of Blessington, County Wicklow, was in Poland to follow Keane and the Irish national team during their European Championship run went missing last Sunday and his body was found on Wednesday in a canal in northern Poland after an apparent accidental drowning.

Keane's tribute came after his goal in the 30th minute as he ran toward the club's bench where he was handed a Galaxy shirt that read 'RIP James Nolan' on the back.

Tribute: Robbie Keane holds up a shirt with 'RIP James Nolan' printed on the back in honor of a 21 year old Irish fan who drowned in Poland

Tribute: Robbie Keane holds up a shirt with 'RIP James Nolan' printed on the back in honor of a 21 year old Irish fan who drowned in Poland

On target: Keane scores past Joe Cannon for LA Galaxy

On target: Keane scores past Joe Cannon for LA Galaxy

For the 31-year-old Irish captain, who has scored 53 goals in 120 games for the national team, the gesture was important for his grieving nation.

Euro 2012

He said: 'It was a young Irish fan who went to Poland, 21 years of age, and unfortunately drowned.

‘Obviously, the whole country was sad and I called his father today to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family.’

Heading for the bench: Keane celebrates his goal by heading to collect the shirt in honour of James Nolan

Heading for the bench: Keane celebrates his goal by heading to collect the shirt in honour of James Nolan

Playing his part: David Beckham helped LA Galaxy to three wins in a row

Playing his part: David Beckham helped LA Galaxy to three wins in a row

'It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times. He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect really.'

Keane said he intends to send the shirt to Nolan's family back in Ireland.

Former Everton loanee Landon Donovan and striker Mike Magee were also on target as the Galaxy won their third game in a row.

Phil Neville badgers Landon Donovan about joining Everton and even tried to kidnap American ace!

Neville badgers Donovan about joining Everton and even tried to kidnap American ace!

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UPDATED:

19:23 GMT, 23 June 2012

Goodison favourite: Donovan

Goodison favourite: Donovan

Everton captain Phil Neville has revealed he is trying to persuade forward Landon Donovan to join the club.

The 30-year-old United States international has had two spells with the Goodison Park side in the last couple of years – and Neville wants him to join permanently.

He told Sports Illustrated: 'If there is a chance, I make sure that I try (to tempt him to Everton) every time I speak to him.

'That's the first thing I say to him. Toward the end of his spell back in January I even tried to kidnap him for a while and keep him in England!

'I'm telling the truth here when I say the last two times he's been over he's totally transformed our season.

'He's the ultimate professional, he's got great quality, and the Everton fans love him.

'He's a hero at Goodison Park, and he's played less than 20 games for us. I've played with some world-class right-sided players in my time, and he's up there with them.'