HOBOKEN, N.J. --- David Beckham flashed his famous smile and said he was happy to be back. What he wouldn't say is how long he'll stay.
The 34-year-old midfielder with the talented right foot and ever-changing hair styles returns to the Los Angeles Galaxy for tonight's game against the lowly New York Red Bulls following a half-season loan to AC Milan.
He's not looking ahead -- not quite yet -- to playing in next year's World Cup or to another off-season loan. But make no mistake, there's a high likelihood he will quit Rodeo Drive for Via della Spiga again at the end of this season because that's what England manager Fabio Capello suggested.
"The England manager has made it very clear to me," Beckham said. "So I will do everything possible. I'll always regret it if I didn't do everything ... to give myself a chance to be involved in that."
And this is someone who doesn't easily take advice -- and knows it.
"I've been criticized by, you know, Pele before. I've been criticized by George Best before. And these are people that I've respected throughout my career, the people you look up to," Beckham said.
"At the end of the day, you know, you hear the criticism but it's about how you deal with it and how it affects you, and it doesn't affect me."
Beckham, runner-up in FIFA player of the year voting in 1999 and 2001 while with Manchester United, joined the Galaxy in July 2007 under a $32.5 million, five-year deal following four seasons as a Galactico at Real Madrid.
Slowed by ankle and knee injuries, he played just eight matches for the Galaxy that year with one goal and three assists. While healthier last year -- he had 10 assists in 25 league matches -- Los Angeles once again missed the playoffs.
Beckham even drew criticism from teammate Landon Donovan, who said in a book out this week, Grant Wahl's The Beckham Experiment , that the former England captain gave up on the Galaxy last year and was unprofessional.
Beckham, in turn, called Donovan unprofessional for speaking without confronting him first.