12 JANUARY 2005

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The Spanish press were delighted on Tuesday night when David Beckham finally broke his silence. But rather than some new revelation about his personal life - or indeed his latest style statement - it was the footie ace's choice of language that kept the press pack enthralled.

Becks showed off an impressive mastery of Spanish when he fielded questions in the language of his adopted home. Reporters from the local media even broke into a round of applause when the Real Madrid star tackled his first press conference without the help of an interpreter.

And the athlete was on fighting form when he responded to speculation he is in decline as a player. "Criticism will always be there," he said. "If you have a bad game your career is finished, or you are too old. Even though you're only 29, people say you are coming to the end of your career, but I believe I have still got five or six years left in football."

David also affirmed that, contrary to recent rumours, he would like to extend his stay in the Spanish capital. "I'm very happy here," he said. "My team-mates are great to me and they look after me. I'm at one of the biggest clubs in the world and I would never complain if I was to extend my contract here."

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David, seen here with his Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane, was applauded by journalists when he responded to questions in Spanish. The England skipper says he would like to stay in Madrid
Photo: AFP
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