Soccer: Davids to play Beckham match

By Michael Brown

The Oceania All Stars will be boosted by another star after former Dutch international Edgar Davids was confirmed to take on David Beckham and his LA Galaxy on Saturday night.

The bespectacled Davids played 74 times for the Netherlands and was one of the players chosen by Pele in his Fifa 100, a compilation of the world's greatest living footballers.

He also played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur. He won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 but also lost three finals in Europe's top club competition.

The 35-year-old hasn't played top-flight football since leaving Ajax at

the end of last season and last year suffered a broken leg that kept him out of action for three months.

Davids is well known for the distinctive goggles he wears while playing - necessitated by his glaucoma - as well as his dreadlocked hair.

He has been a controversial figure, however, and was sent home from Euro 96 in disgrace following an outburst directed at Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink. He said in a radio interview: "Hiddink must take his head out of players' asses, so he can see better." In 2001, Davids was banned by Fifa after testing positive for nandrolone.

The defensive midfielder joins an Oceania team headed by former French World Cup winner Christian Karembeu and former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich.

Auckland Regional Council spokesman Lance Vervoort said they were still talking to one player of a "similar status" to Davids, as well as a couple more local players ahead of Saturday's game at Mt Smart Stadium.

"I think we have ended up with a team that we were hoping for," he said. "We wanted a mix of experience, international stars and Pacific flair and I think we have achieved that. We are really chuffed to get people like Davids, Karembeu and Bosnich."

Former Denmark striker Brian Laudrup pulled out a couple of weeks ago because of TV commitments.

Oceania held talks with three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo and former Manchester United firebrand Eric Cantona and came close to securing former Netherlands, Milan and Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert.

The LA Galaxy named their travelling squad on Friday and, while Beckham is a confirmed starter, they will be without all-time leading US goal-scorer Landon Donovan, who is being rested.

"We were a little bit surprised he's not coming but contractually they're not bound to bring him," Vervoort said. "The players who are coming are in their first-team roster so we are quite happy with the calibre of their side."

Vervoort said 13,000 tickets had been sold but he expected this to increase significantly once Beckham and co landed in New Zealand.

- Herald on Sunday

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