Florida Family Affair
Beckham and Neville link up for Fort Lauderdale
Published: Sep 23, 2021 05:28 PM
David Beckham (right) and son Romeo Beckham Photo: VCG

David Beckham (right) and son Romeo Beckham Photo: VCG

While the numbers were unfamiliar, fans looking at the lineups for Fort Lauderdale's most recent game will have been forgiven for a sense of déjà vu when they saw Beckham and Neville lining up on the right side for Inter Miami's sister side.

It was Romeo Beckham and Harvey Neville, the sons of former Manchester United teammates David Beckham and Phil Neville. The younger Beckham, wearing No.11, and Neville, in the No.6 shirt, were both included from the start for the first time in a club where there are clear family ties.

Beckham senior is one of the owners of the Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, where his former Old Trafford teammate and fellow Class of '92 academy graduate Phil Neville is the head coach.

Beckham junior is 19 and this game against South Georgia Tormentors in the third tier of the US professional pyramid was his first taste of the professional game.

Fort Lauderdale, managed by Darren Powell, acts as a reserve team for the MLS side.

The game ended 2-2 and though neither Beckham nor Neville was on the score sheet it was an impressive showing from the pair of progeny, who have a lot to live up to in the names on the back of their shirts.

There was no sense of favoritism in their reserve side giving a debut to young Beckham, according to the Inter Miami head coach - if anything Romeo has had to work harder to make the grade.

"I think the first thing that David said to me was, 'You have got to be harder on him than anyone else,'" Neville said.

"He has got to work harder than ­anyone else to get into that team ­because there will be questions, there will be expectations on his shoulders."

"I thought he did really well," the former Everton and England defender added.

"I think the measure of his performance was that he was only planned to play 45 minutes, and he played nearly 80 minutes because he is a boy that is hungry.

"He has got a lot of pressure and ­expectation on his shoulders, but what he has got is his feet firmly on the ground.

"He knows he has got a lot of development to do, and he has got all the right attributes - character, determination, good person - to have a really good opportunity of making it in professional football."

"He is so popular in the dressing room. He has obviously been brought up the right way by his parents," Neville added.

Romeo's debut came on the right side of midfield, with the former Arsenal academy player delighted to have played 79 minutes in his first game as a professional.

"Blessed to have made my pro debut tonight for @fortlauderdalecf. Full focus onto the next match," the young Beckham wrote on Instagram.

While Romeo Beckham signed for the club only earlier this month, the younger Neville arrived earlier in the year and had already featured several times during this campaign.

This was the 19-year-old's 16th appearance of the season since arriving from Manchester in a youth career that his seen him take in stints at Manchester City and Valencia as well as Manchester United.

Neville said that neither he nor his former teammate and owner of his current club were involved in bringing either of their sons to South Florida.

"These boys have made the decision themselves," Neville told the media.

"When I joined this football club, Harvey was at Manchester United… and I played no part in signing my son. It was done by other people.

"The decision was made by my boy, and that is a decision he has got to make himself. He knows when he is in this football club he is no different than any other player, and it is the same with Romeo."

While their famous fathers have illustrious careers behind them, the two young footballers are at the start of their own journeys into the professional game.

While social media has not been kind to Romeo Beckham after the highlights of his debut were shared online, it is unfair to judge any player on their professional bow.

The truth is that the family connection will see greater scrutiny - something that his older brother Brooklyn said that he felt that he could not live up to when he left Arsenal's academy in 2015 and decided to call time on his career.

Even Phil Neville has had to defend himself against accusations of nepotism for his appointment at Inter Miami, as not only are he and the co-owner former teammates for club and country but they are both co-owners of English Football League side Salford City.

Phil's brother Gary, now a pundit after hanging up his coaching whistle following an ill-fated time in Valencia alongside his brother, has been one of the staunchest defenders of Inter Miami's choice.

"I want him to do well because I know how hard he works at it. The ­reason Phil gets opportunities is through his hard work and thinking about it every single day," Gary Neville said on Sky Sports back in January.

"I know my brother and I know David Beckham - he wouldn't give his mate a job if he thought that he couldn't do it," he added.

"[Phil's] gone into women's football, which was a massive step. He accompanied David Moyes at Manchester United and that obviously wasn't the best experience but that made him stronger, in my opinion, not worse.

"He'll have gone through a process over there - it wasn't David Beckham who selected the manager for Inter Miami unilaterally."

The Inter Miami coach is in his second season at the club and after a tough start he has overseen a recent improvement in results with the team on track for the playoffs.

Maybe one day in the future Gary Neville will be defending the selections of his nephew and Romeo Beckham in the first team.