David Beckham hopes he can provide some of the same magic for England's 2018 World Cup bid that he did for London's successful campaign to host the 2012 Olympics.
Visiting the Olympic Stadium in his native East London for the first time Monday, the former national team captain said he can play a key role for England ahead of Thursday's FIFA vote in Zurich. "Hopefully I'll make a difference," the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder said, bundled up against the biting cold as he surveyed the inside of the 80,000-capacity stadium.
Beckham is flying to Switzerland on Tuesday as part of a top-level England bid delegation that includes Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William. England, which hosted the World Cup in 1966, is competing against Russia and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium.
"I have been involved in the bid and working hard on the bid," Beckham said. "Everyone that's in the bid team has worked very hard to get it to the point where we've got it now. We're going to be still meeting members of FIFA and the delegates.
"A lot of the hard work's been done. It's just about making sure we keep telling people the reasons why we believe England will be the right place to hold the World Cup."
Beckham was part of the London delegation that wooed International Olympic Committee members ahead of the 2012 Olympic vote in Singapore in 1995. England defeated favored Paris in the final round.
"It would be nice for the same result as we had in Singapore because it was such an amazing feeling to get the vote and to get the Olympics in the East End of London and our country," Beckham said. "Hopefully it will be the same this time around." Beckham said he remains "confident" but not "overconfident"' that England will get the World Cup.
"We have a great chance," he said. "We believe we put up the best bid. We're ready. This country is all about football. We've hammered this home to all the delegates."
The bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption and vote trading, and the BBC was scheduled to air a documentary Monday night on further irregularities.
"I'm not going to get into the politics," Beckham said. "I believe it will be a fair decision. ... Anything going on behind the scenes, I don't think will make a difference.
"At the end of the day, it's down to what our bid team have done and what our legacy of English football is that hopefully will get us the World Cup - the history, the tradition and the benefits that can be gained of holding a World Cup in England." Beckham grew up in East London, not far from the Stratford area where the 2012 Olympic Park is taking shape. He toured the stadium and the rest of the site Monday with London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe.
"It's a very proud moment for me and a lot of East End people to see the makeover that's going on," Beckham said. "The stadium is amazing. It's a stadium that when you drive up to it, it's got that aura about it."
The 35-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid star said it would be a great stadium to play in.
"I think my sons have got more chance of playing than me, considering my age," he said. "It's a stadium I would have loved to have played in because you can feel the atmosphere already even without any people in it."
The stadium was originally designed to be downsized after the games to a 25,000-seat venue for athletics, but the Olympic Park Legacy Company is currently considering final tenancy bids from Premier League football clubs West Ham and Tottenham. West Ham would keep the running track, while Spurs would not.
"As a professional footballer, you kind of prefer to play without the track because it brings the people closer," Beckham said.
Beckham has family ties to Spurs.
"My granddad was a season ticket-holder for 50 years at Tottenham," he said. "Whoever gets it, West Ham, Tottenham, whoever else that comes in, it's a great stadium for any team to have."
One thing is certain: Beckham's three sons will be coming to the stadium for the Olympics.
"Without a doubt the boys will be here," he said. Beckham, who has a year left on his five-year contract with the Galaxy, reiterated that he has no plans for retirement. "I'll see my contract out with the Galaxy," he said. "After that, I'll be 36 years old. I still want to play football. I'm not ready to finish playing yet. We'll see what happens after that." Beckham recently returned to action after an Achilles' injury that kept him out of the World Cup in South Africa. He spent the last two MLS offseasons playing on loan at AC Milan, and Premier League side Everton has said it would love to take Beckham on loan this winter.