English soccer player David Beckham speaks at an event held...

English soccer player David Beckham speaks at an event held by the Long Island Association on Friday at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. He was joined on stage by LIA CEO Matt Cohen. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

English soccer icon David Beckham encouraged Long Island’s business community — and its young soccer players — to dedicate themselves to achieving their dreams during his latest local stop tied to a partnership with casino and resort company Las Vegas Sands, which is vying to build a casino on Long Island.

Beckham, a co-owner of MLS team Inter Miami, spoke Friday afternoon to more than 600 Long Islanders at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury during a luncheon hosted by the Long Island Association, the Melville-based advocacy group for Long Island’s business community.

The former Manchester United star has popped up around Long Island several times in recent months, including a Thursday appearance at JCPenney at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City to promote his new fragrance line.

In March, Beckham participated in a youth soccer event, hosted by Las Vegas Sands, with U.S. Women’s National Team legend Carli Lloyd at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. 

Beckham’s appearance Friday was tied to his role as a global brand ambassador for Las Vegas Sands, the company seeking one of three downstate casino licenses that New York State plans to award in 2024 or 2025. Sands New York was the top sponsor of the LIA’s luncheon Friday.

Beckham was interviewed by Long Island Association CEO Matt Cohen at the event, which was interspersed with video highlights from the former midfielder’s 20-year playing career.

“To reach a certain level and to obviously play the game that you love at the highest level, it takes sacrifice,” Beckham said. “There’s dedication and hard work but also you have to enjoy it. I told the boys yesterday and also in March with the initiative, I said, ‘Unless you’re enjoying it, don’t do it, because at the end of the day you have to enjoy what you do.’”

Beckham frequently turned to address a group of local youth soccer players during the event. Frankie Rodrigues, 10, who plays for SUSA FC, a Central Islip-based youth soccer academy, said it was inspirational to hear Beckham tell his story as he pursues his own professional soccer dreams. 

“It was awesome to be in the same room as David Beckham," he said. 

The former captain of England’s national team reflected on one of the lowest moments of his career Friday, recalling how receiving a red card, which disqualified him from playing on, during a match against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup affected his career. England eventually lost that game in penalty kicks and was eliminated.

“That moment was a difficult moment, and of course I wish it never would have happened, but it happened for a reason,” Beckham said. “ … It then pushed me into a place where I then had to grow as a person, as a player. I look back on it, if that hadn’t have happened, I might not have had the career I had. … It was one of those moments that changed my life forever.” 

The 48-year-old’s life and career is the subject of a four-episode docuseries, titled “Beckham,” that debuted on Netflix earlier this month.

Las Vegas Sands has proposed a $4 billion casino resort on the site of Nassau Coliseum, which would include a hotel, luxury shops, restaurants, a live performance venue, convention and event space and a day spa. In May, the Nassau County Legislature approved the company for a 99-year lease of the 72-acre Coliseum site.

Cohen and the Long Island Association have backed that proposal, touting the thousands of jobs it would create and its ability to spur economic development. It has faced opposition from community groups that worry about increased traffic and crime.

The LIA didn’t pay for Beckham’s appearance, which was arranged for through the star's partnership with Las Vegas Sands. In lieu of a speaker's fee, the LIA will make a donation to "a soccer-related cause or causes" on Long Island, Cohen said.

Oak Beach Osprey nest … New tax breaks for struggling Port Washington development … Paralympic gold medalist Credit: Newsday

Primary: Voters take to the polls ... Nassau homebuying event ... Hampton Bays man drowns ... Paralympic gold medalist

Oak Beach Osprey nest … New tax breaks for struggling Port Washington development … Paralympic gold medalist Credit: Newsday

Primary: Voters take to the polls ... Nassau homebuying event ... Hampton Bays man drowns ... Paralympic gold medalist

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