MANCHESTER, England -- England coach Steve McClaren said David Beckham is happy in the United States, and that the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder is eager to prove his American critics wrong next season.
"I read a couple of things about him over there not enjoying the life and not enjoying the experience," said McClaren, who dashed over to California last weekend to assess the 32-year-old Beckham's fitness and motivation ahead of a crucial European Championship qualifier. "I couldn't find that further from the truth.
"He loves it over there, he's settled there, his kids are in great schools and he's got a great lifestyle."
Beckham's arrival in California was trumpeted with massive fanfare and hype, but many fans quickly became disillusioned when the English star sat out much of the season because of a bad ankle and sprained knee. He played just five league games, scoring one goal on a trademark free kick.
"He's got a lot to prove over there and in fact he was disappointed being injured in his first season so he's looking forward," McClaren said.
Beckham and Spice Girl wife Victoria might be mixing with Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but McClaren said it didn't seem like his player is engulfed by the celebrity culture.
"No, because he's got a quieter lifestyle ... over there now to what he had before [in Europe]," McClaren said.
McClaren himself is facing a barrage of criticism in the British press and could be jobless if England fails to qualify for next summer's Euro 2008 tournament. He's hoping Beckham's experience can help the team get a win against Croatia in its last qualifier at Wembley on Nov. 21 -- although even that may not be enough if other results don't go England's way.
Beckham's inclusion in the squad -- despite still lacking match fitness -- continues a recent comeback to international play for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press