by Colin Droniou
PARIS, Feb 13, 2013 (AFP) – David Beckham began to settle in to his new surroundings on Wednesday afternoon, as he trained at his new club Paris Saint-Germain’s base for the first time.
The arrival of the 37-year-old Englishman at the Camp des Loges training ground in the French capital’s western suburbs attracted the kind of media circus that only somebody of his superstar status can.
While one hundred journalists from all over the world were permitted to attend the session, supporters were kept out of an event that shattered the usual tranquility of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
“What a circus this is for an old man,” raged a cyclist as he struggled to fight his way through the crowds.
The small car park next to the training ground was unusually full, forcing television trucks to park by the side of the road.
Around a hundred supporters braved the bitter cold as they attempted to catch a glimpse of the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star.
Nevertheless, while children do not attend school in France on a Wednesday afternoon, few were present.
Those fans who did show up had little chance of spotting ‘Becks’ or any of PSG’s other star names from behind the tarpaulin that protects the entire perimeter of the Camp des Loges.
“My daughters Lorine and Juliana wanted to see Beckham and Lucas,” explained one woman, Afsa.
“I haven’t come here for a long time but this is Beckham and it is important for the club, even if I know full well that I won’t be able to see him,” admitted Jeremy, a 25-year-old fan.
“Everything has stopped for the supporters since (coach) Ancelotti came in. That’s the way it is.”
Before the club re-emerged as a continental force to be reckoned with, fans often had the chance to see what was going on at the training ground.
Now, fans like Jeremy can only attempt to sneak a peak through the fences, and others, including an English couple sporting LA Galaxy shirts, were content to stand further back while around 10 police officers looked on.
Inside, the cameras flashed as Beckham made his way out on to the pitch and exchanged words briefly with coach Carlo Ancelotti and his assistant.
For the first time, members of the media had to apply for accreditation to watch PSG train, and one hundred were there from 10 countries.
There had been more than 200 applications in total.
Beckham had travelled with the squad to Spain to watch Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg win against Valencia from the stands, and arrived back in the French capital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
On the flight, he was “treated like any other player and did not really speak with members of the board,” according to one of those also on the plane.
Wearing pink boots and a red hat, Beckham certainly stood out as tv stations from Sweden, the United States and Japan watched him go through his paces.
His first session lasted barely an hour, but it won’t be long before the world’s media will be able to see him in competitive action, with Ancelotti hinting that he could even feature in this Sunday’s league game at Sochaux.
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