As a player, David Beckham was one of few from England’s golden generation to spread his wings and take his talent onto the international stage.
But when it comes to being the owner of a football club, it seems there’s no place quite like home for the former Manchester United star.
Now the face of MLS franchise Inter Miami, Beckham has turned to British shores as he looks to establish the club as a force to be reckoned with in US football.
Co-owner David Beckham has helped a British core emerge at Inter Miami in recent months
On Tuesday, it was revealed that West Brom’s Kieran Gibbs, who has 10 England caps under his belt, will join the club on a free transfer this summer, following in the footsteps of compatriot Ryan Shawcross, who made the same move last month.
As well as being involved in player recruitment, Beckham was also instrumental in the appointment of his close friend, Phil Neville, as only the club’s second ever manager earlier this year.
Neville, a member of United’s famed Class of ’92 along with Beckham, was tempted by the project in Florida, even quitting his role as boss of the England Women’s side to take the job.
He brings years of experience in English football with him to Miami, having played at Old Trafford for over a decade and spent eight years at Everton before embarking on his coaching career.
Beckham and Neville’s former Manchester United team-mate Nicky Butt could also be lured to Florida after quitting his role at Manchester United earlier this week.
But while the appointment of Neville was perhaps the biggest decision Beckham has made as co-owner so far, the manager is far from the only UK influence at the club.
Here, Sportsmail takes a closer look at the individuals – and methods – behind Beckham’s British revolution.
Beckham played a key role in the appointment of his friend, Phil Neville (left), as manager
Part of a five-man ownership group at Inter Miami, Beckham has thrown himself into the role and taken a hands-on approach with many areas of the club.
The former England captain is heavily involved in recruitment and can take much of the credit for the British core of coaching staff who have been tasked with turning the club into MLS Cup contenders.
Beckham turned to Neville, who he played with at both United and international level, in his search for a new manager, and gave him free rein to bring in his own backroom team, some of whom have followed him from England.
The former Real Madrid midfielder was forced to defend the decision to appoint his friend as boss, insisting that Neville’s incredible ‘work ethic’ was one of the many reasons he was given the job.
‘I’ve known him [Neville] since I was 15, 16 years old, from a young kid,’ Beckham said during Neville’s unveiling. ‘I knew what he was like as a player, I know what he’s like as a human being, I know what his work ethic is like.
Beckham is keen to develop Inter Miami’s academy and bring young players into the first team
‘Him and his brother Gary, I’ve never seen two players work as hard at their game in my whole career. So to actually have someone like that come into this club – of course people are always going to turn around and say “Oh, it’s because he’s your friend” – it’s nothing to do with him being my friend.’
Another major reason behind Beckham’s decision to appoint Neville appears to be his desire to create an English-style academy system at Inter Miami.
While the franchise spent big to bring Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi to Miami, and Beckham has hinted at luring superstars like Lionel Messi and Neymar in the future, he also dreams of replicating United’s famous Class of ’92 – albeit on a much smaller scale – by bringing through young players who not only have the club at their heart, but who are technically gifted enough to make it in MLS.
‘Finding that young homegrown player is essential to this club, someone with an Inter Miami heart,’ Beckham said earlier this year. ‘That’s the biggest challenge this year because that’s part of my DNA.’
Former England captain Beckham, pictured in 2003, has brought a slice of Britain to Florida
Beckham believes Neville, who came through United’s youth ranks before making a name for himself in the first team alongside the likes of brother Gary, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, is the perfect man to ensure a clear pathway from Inter Miami’s affiliate club, Fort Lauderdale, and their fledgling academy.
‘I felt that it was important to install the coaches that we expect at this club, the hard work that we expect at this club and also we’ve spoke about the young players who are around our city, and the real opportunity and potential that we have,’ Beckham said at Neville’s unveiling.
‘We need people within this club that are going to work with these young kids. It’s not just about our top team, our first team. It’s about the academy, it’s about the USL, it’s about the potential that runs through this club and that was the most important thing for me to see, and to understand and one of the reasons we made the changes that we have.’
As well as helping to develop Inter Miami’s next generation, Neville and his staff will focus on improving results and performances in the short-term.
Inter Miami’s debut season in MLS saw them finish 10th in the Eastern Conference, before losing all three games in the MLS is Back group stage – a hastily-organised mini tournament held behind closed doors following the suspension of games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although finishing 10th in a league of 14 teams wasn’t a disaster for the team, then managed by Argentine Diego Alonso, it remains some way off the lofty ambitions of Beckham and his fellow owners.
Neville has been delivering harder, more intense training sessions since arriving in Miami
It is hoped that Neville, with his experience of Premier League football as a player and time as an international manager in the women’s game, will bring new methods – and perhaps a British way of playing – with him when the 2021 season gets underway next month.
Recent training sessions suggest that will be the case, with the former England utility man calling on his players to press aggressively and focus on keeping possession.
Sportsmail understands Neville has been working on basic passing pattern routines and introducing new training drills, some of which he experienced at United and during his FA coaching.
Neville is said to be quieter than the players expected him to be, but training is harder and more intense than it was last year under the previous manager.
Neville watches on during a session as he prepares Inter Miami for their second MLS campaign
‘In terms of what we want to build here, we talked about identity, about connecting with the public,’ Neville said during his unveiling.
‘We have to behave in a certain way, what I call elite behaviour. Elite behaviour is doing the right thing every minute of every single day, and I’ve lived that myself as a player and I’ve coached that way.
‘Ultimately, I’m coming into this job to instil those values into this football club. I know what qualities it takes to win.
‘The identity, the commitment, the discipline, the hard work; these are fundamentals that I want to instil into this football club.’
THE NEW PLAYERS
On Tuesday it was confirmed that Kieran Gibbs will swap the Midlands for Miami this summer after agreeing to join the MLS side when his West Brom contract expires.
The 31-year-old, who came through the ranks at Arsenal and spent a decade in and around the first team before joining the Baggies in 2017, also won 10 caps for England, the last of which came back in 2015.
‘Extremely excited to be starting the next chapter of my career with Inter Miami this summer,’ Gibbs wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.
‘I look forward to embracing a new culture and a new challenge in South Florida. I’m really impressed by the vision of the club, and can’t wait to play in front of The Siege.’
Inter Miami have confirmed that Kieran Gibbs will join them on a free transfer this summer
As well as Neville and some of his backroom staff, the left back will have an English team-mate in the shape of Stoke legend Ryan Shawcross.
The no-nonsense defender brought his 14-year association with the Potters to an end last month, agreeing to terminate his contract to seal his move to the States.
The 33-year-old, who also came through United’s academy and made over 400 appearances for Stoke, will add some English steel to Neville’s back four next season.
On signing for Miami, Shawcross said: ‘It’s really exciting. It’s a great opportunity. I’ve read loads about Inter Miami and seen loads of videos from last year.
Gibbs will join former Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross (right) in Florida when his deal expires
‘I’m really excited to be part of the team and looking forward to helping out. I had seen the press about it when the club first started, and you see the owners and the vision they have, and you can’t help but want to be involved with it.’
The English pair do not quite fit the youthful Miami Beckham has advocated, but it is hoped their experience will help Neville’s transition and make it easier to bring through teenage prospects.
Shawcross and Gibbs will find another Brit on their arrival in Florida, with the MLS side already having a Scottish international on their books.
Lewis Morgan, who began his career at St Mirren before joining Celtic in 2018, joined the club for their inaugural season and was named the club’s MVP last December.
The 24-year-old winger has two Scotland caps to his name and scored five goals in 24 appearances for Miami last season.
Scotland international Lewis Morgan was named Inter Miami’s MVP after their debut season
THE COACHING STAFF
Neville is not the only coach to cross the pond for a new life in Miami this year, with two of his backroom staff having followed the former Lionesses boss to the US and another having moved to the Sunshine State.
Perhaps the most recognisable is Anthony Pulis – son of former Stoke boss Tony Pulis – who has joined Neville’s staff as assistant coach.
The Welshman came through Portsmouth’s youth ranks and played for 11 different English clubs – including Grimsby and Lincoln – across a 10-year period before joining Orlando City back in 2012.
After hanging up his boots in 2014, Pulis, who won four caps for Wales’ Under 21s, stayed in the States, managing Orlando’s B team and St Louis before linking up with Beckham and Neville at Miami this month.
He is one of three Brits on Neville’s team, along with Mark Mason and Alec Scott.
Mason, who has been appointed assistant coach, director of goalkeeping and set-piece specialist, was England Women’s goalkeeping coach between 2016 and 2021, where he built a close relationship with Neville.
Anthony Pulis, son of former Stoke boss Tony Pulis, is one of three Brits on Neville’s staff
He has previously worked for the likes of Ipswich, Southend and Portsmouth, mainly as a head of academy goalkeeping.
Scott, meanwhile, has joined Neville as Inter Miami’s new performance analyst, with a focus on giving detailed feedback on players’ displays in training and matches.
He spent the previous eight years working for the FA with England’s senior team, Under 20 side and women’s team.
Before that, Scott worked as an academy performance analyst for Everton in 2009-10 and in a joint performance analyst-sports scientist role for Liverpool between 2020 and 2013.
Another big-name arrival on the coaching staff could be Beckham and Neville’s Class of ’92 friend Butt. He quit Old Trafford this week amid friction with United’s newly appointed football director John Murtough and appears to want to get back to work quickly.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are also interested in securing Butt’s services so it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Beckham and Neville will undoubtedly hope he can bring another British element to their revolution in Miami.