Like so many other football fans, watching Manchester United makes David Beckham sick. Tonight, he returns to add nauseum
And not sick in the way the youth of today use the word. The former England captain, who left Old Trafford in 2003 after 394 games, 85 goals and 10 years, explains: “It made me feel physically sick to even, you know, just turn the Manchester United game on the television.
“Not because I hated the club or hated the fact I’d left. I just missed it that much. I’m sure it will feel like coming home tonight. United is where I grew up and it’s the club I’ve always supported and will continue to support.
“It will be amazing because the relationship I have with the United fans is still important to me.
“I went through some difficult times, but they never stopped supporting me and I wouldn’t have got through everything without them.
“Over the years, it hasn’t felt right coming back. There was something about going back to Old Trafford as an opposition player that just didn’t sit well with me. But now, seven years on, it feels right.”
Beckham, 34, returns to his old stamping ground - as a substitute - attempting to extricate Leonardo’s Italians from a 3-2 first leg deficit suffered at the San Siro a fortnight ago.
Then, two headed goals from Wayne Rooney gave United the edge. This time Rooney is recovering from a knee injury and Beckham, who came on as a substitute for Milan over the weekend when Mathieu Flamini was injured, is hoping for something better.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who hates questions about Becks in his press conferences, said: “We’ll try and do it in our normal way, I don’t think we should be confused by the score of 3-2. It’s a very difficult game and one we need to win.
“That’s the way we will approach it. We hope to kill the tie with our own attacking ability. AC Milan have to score, which should make it a really open match.
“We don’t know for certain if David is going to start. He hasn’t started a match for a while. It would be good to score an early goal.”
That was the sum total of Fergie Beckhamisms. And not much was said about United’s record against Italian teams – and Milan in particular.
Four times the sides have met, four times United have crashed out. Last season Becks played 20 times for Milan, scoring two goals. This season? Just 11 games and no goals yet. Boss Leonardo said: “For Beckham it is something very, very special. When he saw the draw, it was unbelievable. Beckham is someone very, very timeless, he is very professional.
“The most important thing is how he will react in this match. It’s not important what happened before.”
Given last night’s incredible Champions League action – Arsenal saw off Porto 5-0 with a Maradona from Samir Nasri while Bayern Munich edged past Fiorentina with a stunning last-gasp effort from Arjen Robben – it would be impolite to expect anything less tonight.
And it’s not just United - 11-time winners Real Madrid are 1-0 down after the first leg of their clash with Lyon. Another former Old Trafford idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, is expected to play at the Bernebeu.
I've got a feeling both Becks and Ron will suffer tonight.