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Beckham says he has role in opening ceremony

David Beckham will have a role in the opening ceremony at the Olympics.

The English soccer star had hoped to play for Britain's team at the games, but he was not included in the squad by coach Stuart Pearce. There will, however, be a spot for him Friday at Olympic Stadium.

"It is some kind of role in the opening ceremony, which I am honored to be involved in because obviously I was involved in the start process with this seven years ago," Beckham told The Associated Press. "And for Seb (Sebastian Coe) to have kept me involved, I'm very proud of that."

But in keeping with the national "save the surprise" campaign, Beckham wouldn't divulge any further details about his role.

One obvious role would be to serve as one of the final torchbearers to help complete the 8,000-mile relay around Britain in the stadium, although it is expected a former Olympian will be given the honor of lighting the cauldron.

There is speculation Muhammad Ali could also play a role in the opening ceremony after the boxing great came to London to appear Tuesday alongside Beckham at an event in London.

"He stood for so many amazing things throughout his life, whether it's what he did in the ring or outside of the ring," Beckham said at the Beyond Sport conference. "His life and his career was all about survival and he is an amazing man."

During the games, Beckham plans to watch some sports while fulfilling his Major League Soccer duties in the United States.

"I'll be going back and forward but I'll definitely be trying to get to a few events," he said.

Beckham has sensed Olympic fever gripping London with just three days until the opening ceremony.

"I was at the stadium yesterday and the park yesterday and you can feel the kind of atmosphere building, the excitement building," Beckham said. "I was brought up around this side of London and, you know, to actually see the changes that have happened and the excitement that's going on is a proud moment."

But Beckham is saddened that he won't get to play in Britain's first Olympic soccer team since the 1960 Games despite making 115 appearances for England, a record for a player other than a goalkeeper.

The former England captain still hasn't given up hope of representing his country again.

"I'll always have ambitions in football as long as I am playing," Beckham said. "I might be 37 years old but I still want to continue to win championships. I still want to continue to be the best that I can be and continue to represent my country in any way, shape or form."

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris