David Beckham may have thought he was set for another Down Under holiday this summer but the English superstar will receive a harsh reality check when he spies old foe Danny Tiatto.
The Queensland Roar hardman is licking his lips at the prospect of marking Beckham again when his American club, LA Galaxy, play the Roar in a crowd-pulling December 11 exhibition match.
It will be the second time in 13 months the Galaxy have ventured to Australia for a friendly after 80,000 fans packed ANZ Stadium last November when Sydney FC won 5-3.
Beckham scored a signature free-kick to open Galaxy’s account that night after days of speculation whether he’d line up.
The former England captain may want to think again if he is nursing any knocks when he sees Tiatto now plies his trade with the Roar.
A long-time Manchester City midfielder, the former Socceroo went head to head with Beckham over six seasons of intense skirmishes in Manchester derbies.
The rough and ready Tiatto said the former Manchester United midfielder won’t have trouble remembering him but promised to go easier for a change.
“He might have a couple of scars so he will remember the clashes we had but that’s water under the bridge,” Tiatto said.
“We had a bit of a kick at each other but that’s not unusual for me really. I think this time will be a bit more friendly.
“It will be good to lock horns again.”
Beckham enjoyed far more derby victories with the Red Devils than Tiatto’s City but the Roar veteran counts a 3-1 drought-breaking triumph in the farewell to Maine Road in 2003 among his most memorable in a long career.
Showing the intensity of their past skirmishes, Tiatto felt he’d be wasting his time asking for Beckham’s No.23 jersey after the game.
“I don’t think he’ll want to give it to me, especially if I’m going to be marking him again,” he said.
“It’s good to be able to bring games like that to Queensland.”
It’s unknown whether Beckham will bring wife Victoria and their two children to Brisbane as well.
Suncorp Stadium general manager Paul Sergeant today swiftly moved to played down any potential dramas over the 33-year-old’s availability for the clash.
“If you look at his playing history, the Galaxy has had 28 games (this season) and he’s played 24 of them – the only four he’s missed is because of international duties,” he said.
“I think it’s a little bit of a hypothetical question at the moment, he’s in good health, he’s in good condition and he’s playing very, very well.”
Although scheduled three days before a home clash against the Newcastle Jets, Roar coach Frank Farina promised to field a strong team for the exhibition match.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “The more international football you can get in your city and state is not just good for football followers but I think great for the game, to keep promoting the A-League and Australian football.”
Despite the Australia-Qatar World Cup qualifier attracting a disappointing 34,230 last night, Queensland Sports Minister Judy Spence was confident the Beckham factor would pack the 52,500 Brisbane stadium.