Carson, Calif. -- It took David Beckham less than 24 hours to start thinking like a Californian.
England's multimillionaire midfielder and international sports star had no sooner been introduced at the Home Depot Center yesterday morning as the biggest fish yet landed by Major League Soccer, than he was speaking of heading home to Beverly Hills for a dip in the pool.
"I try to live my life as normally as possible," Beckham said. "I especially try to make my children's life as normal as possible. Once I've done this, in front of all these thousands of people and in front of the world's press, I'll go back home and jump in the pool with my kids."
Looking tanned and relaxed after almost a month's vacation since winning the Spanish league championship with Real Madrid, the newest star on the Los Angeles Galaxy happily fielded questions from reporters who had come from around the world to see just what it was that had lured him to MLS.
For Beckham, 32, the answer was simple.
"My real goal is to take soccer to a different level here," he said. "If I can do that, then I'll be very proud of that. If I can't, then it won't be for the want of trying."
Beckham, along with his pop star wife, Victoria, and their three sons, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, flew to Los Angeles from London on Thursday and went directly to their new $22 million mansion.
The most serious issue on the minds of the more than 700 media members covering the event and the roughly 3,000 season-ticket holders in attendance was the status of Beckham's injured ankle.
It affects his Galaxy season. It affects his recently revived England national team career.
"My ankle is still slightly swollen. I ran on it for the first time about three days ago in London." he said. "It felt slightly unstable, so there's still a bit of work to do."
Beckham's debut for the Galaxy is planned for next Saturday against the English Premier League club Chelsea at the Home Depot Center.
Grahame L. Jones writes for the Los Angeles Times.