David Beckham Retires
David Beckham the original Modern Day celebrity footballer has called time on his playing career at the age of thirty eight. The former Manchester United wide man has made the decision to end his illustrious career after discussions with his current employers, newly crowned French Champions Paris Saint Germain ended with Beckham rejected the Parisians’ offer of a new deal. Beckham ends his career after making 718 club appearances spanning across a career two decades in length with particular highlights being winning the treble with Manchester United in 1999, the La Liga title with Real Madrid in his final year in Spain and finally leading his LA Galaxy side to two consecutive MLS Cup triumphs.
Beckham has given the reason for his sudden retirement as wanting to bow out at the highest level “I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level” and there is little argument that playing for the French champions and one of the richest clubs in world football falls under the highest level bracket. Unlike fellow members of Manchester United’s illustrious class of 92, David Beckham according to Gary Neville was always interested and destined to travel and showcase his football in other top European countries and this is exactly what he did, the former Tottenham Hotspur trainee enjoyed spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy and finally Paris Saint Germain, a fantastic array of top clubs with high or burgeoning worldwide reputations.
Beckham was the original modern day ‘celebrity footballer’ with his wife, Victoria, often taking up many more newspaper headlines than his football, however despite all this there can be no argument that David Beckham in the pomp of his career flew the flag for English football. Just like figures such as Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker of the past and now Wayne Rooney have done, wherever English football was mentioned, David Beckham was the first name to spring to mind. His sponsorship with Pepsi around the time of the 2002 World Cup in Asia sent his popularity in the Far East through the roof with fans across the continent idolising Beckham in a way only Manchester United supporters had previously done. Beckham was the first to take the now synonymous image of a footballer, he was flash, he idolised media attention very much like Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic does in the current era however this image did not always reflect positively on Beckham’s career with it arguably leading to his exit from Manchester United.
The 2002-2003 season was to be Beckham’s last with Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side as the pair’s relationship reached an unworkable level following a disagreement following an FA Cup tie against West Ham United when Sir Alex verbally berated Beckham leading the Leytonstone born midfielder to feel singled out at the club. Tensions were exacerbated further following an FA Cup tie with Arsenal when Sir Alex Ferguson was rumoured to have kicked a stray boot in the dressing room which struck David Beckham above the left eye with the England international requiring stitches. This signalled the end of Manchester United and David Beckham with Real Madrid being rumoured to be interested in bringing Beckham in as one of their first English Galácticos and the writing was on the wall for Beckham when he was left on the substitutes bench for a European Cup quarter final tie with Real Madrid at Old Trafford and where have we seen that this season?
Beckham’s move to Real Madrid continued his superstardom yet further however success did not immediately follow with Beckham’s time at the Bernabeu coinciding with Real Madrid’s worst ever extended period in the European Cup with the club having still not got their hands on the famous trophy since 2002. Beckham did however take to football in Spain with the English midfielder displaying exactly why on a regular basis he had cost Real Madrid 35 Million Euros, notable memories include free kicks against Villarreal and the league title in his final season at the club. Beckham’s final season despite seeing him lift the coveted La Liga crown was blighted by Beckham’s long disagreement with manager Fabio Capello with the Italian saying Beckham had played his last game for the club in January 2007, whilst club president Ramon Calderon being quoted as saying “he [Beckham] is going to Hollywood to be half a film star”, when it was announced Beckham had agree to join LA Galaxy at the end of the season once his contract expired. The pair would later go on to forge an amicable working relationship within the English national team set up.
Beckham’s time in America was largely successful with Beckham certainly being one of the first big name European players going over to join the expanding project that was the MLS, notable names such as Thierry Henry, Torsten Frings and Robbie Keane have gone on to follow him to the States. The MLS has certainly grown in stature since Beckham entered in 2007, there is a much wider base of interest in the League with European sports news outlets now taking the time to report on the MLS due to the fact they had to initially in order to satisfy the demand for ‘Beckham’ on European television screens, this has allowed fans of European football to see the excellent work being put in by coaching staff in the MLS which is improving the image of football in that part of the globe. The United States’ bid to host a second World Cup was in no small part down to the impact Beckham’s name had indeed had on the name of football in America.
Beckham’s final career move was one of great surprise, PSG one of the richest teams in the world who could have their pick of any of Europe’s top talents chose Beckham to be one of their January signings with the deal being announced on the closing day of the winter window. Beckham has had a reasonably successful spell in France picking up a Ligue 1 winners medal and his decision to donate all of his club salary to a local Parisian children’s charity was an act fitting with Beckham’s character. Underneath all the glamour of his and his wife’s lifestyle there was a genuine football man, a man who would put in endless extra hours of effort in training as a youngster to perfect his free kicks, his corners and his crossing, with AC Milan’s legendary Paulo Maldini complimenting Beckham’s incredibly high work ethic which matched his own during his loan spell at AC Milan.
Beckham’s impact on the English national team will be remembered forever, the free kick against Greece to send England to the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea, his penalty to give the Three Lions a historic victory over Argentina and his iconic 100th cap gained against France in Paris in 2008 are among the most memorable moments of his career with England. Beckham proved a vital member of the dressing room in the tenures of Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello. Beckham would go onto to form part of the coaching staff for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa following his Achilles injury ruled him out of playing in the tournament. Beckham the second highest ever appearance maker for the England national team also earned the honour of captaining his country in the 2006 World Cup with the midfielder showing his passion for his Nation by resigning from his role of captain following an unsuccessful campaign in Germany.
Beckham will be remembered as a ‘celebrity footballer’ within some circles however the football fraternity committed to the game will remember Beckham for his incredible work ethic which enabled him to reach such lofty heights in his career, the boy who at just twenty years old audaciously chipped Neil Sullivan in the Wimbledon goal from inside his own half, the boy who following a disastrous exit from the 1998 World Cup in France had to face torrents and torrents of abuse from fans up and down the country, week in and week out yet still aided Manchester United to their success on three fronts yet David Beckham will be remembered most of all for being one of the few memorable characters who well and truly helped put English football on the map, and keep it there.
Written by Chris Winterburn @Chriswin4