England's best known footballer David Beckham announced his retirement on Thursday (May 16) after a career laden with trophies and glamour that had a worldwide impact that went way beyond soccer.
The 38-year-old former England captain, who this month helped Paris St Germain to the French league title to add to titles won in England, Spain and the United States, will hang up his boots at the end of this season.
"I'm thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level," the midfielder said in a statement.
"I want to thank all my team mates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from. I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed."
His trade-mark free kicks and pin-point crosses established him as a key player, while his good looks made him a pin-up for teenage girls and later his marriage to former Spice Girls band member Victoria Adams established him as an off-field celebrity.
While his commercial appeal kept growing and his friendships with Hollywood A listers grew, his main passion of soccer - and in particular England - held firm.
"To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country," Beckham said.
"I knew every time I wore the Three Lions shirt, I was not only following in a long line of great players, I was also representing every fan that cared passionately about their country. I'm honoured to represent England both on and off the pitch.
"If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhoodclub Manchester United, proudly captained and played for my country over 100 times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy. I'm fortunate to have realised those dreams," said Beckham.
He won the MLS championship twice with the Galaxy before moving to Paris in January for what turned out to be his last hurrah.
There he demonstrated one of his other sides as his salary was paid to a children's charity in the French capital.
Away from soccer, underwear modelling and ambassadorial roles, Beckham is known as a family man and thanked those closest to him for what they had done for him.
"I wouldn't have achieved what I have done today without my family," he said.
"I'm grateful for my parents' sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams. I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period."
- They won the Premier League and FA Cup double during his first full season. During the 1996/97 campaign he scored from the halfway line in an opening day victory over Wimbledon.
- Beckham made his England debut on Sept. 1, 1996 in a World Cup qualifier against Moldova. Two years later he scored in the finals against Colombia but went home from France in disgrace after being sent off for kicking out at Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone in a last-16 defeat.
- In England, Beckham was widely blamed for the defeat and slammed by the tabloid newspapers.
- Beckham captained England on the first of 58 occasions against Italy in a friendly in November 2000 and the next year booked them a place in the 2002 World Cup finals with a stunning injury-time free kick, salvaging a 2-2 draw against Greece. England were knocked out by Brazilin the quarter-finals.
- In 2006, he resigned as England captain after his side lost in the World Cup quarter-finals toPortugal, who knocked them out at the same stage of Euro 2004.
- Beckham returned to the team a year later and earned 115 caps, an England outfield record. His last international appearance was against Belarus at Wembley in October 2009.
- Beckham missed playing for England at the 2010 World Cup after he ruptured his Achilles tendon while on loan at AC Milan in March. Manager Fabio Capello asked him to accompany the team in an advisory role and announced that he would not be picked for England's attempt to qualify for Euro 2012.
- Beckham signed for Real Madrid from United for 25 million pounds ($41 million) in 2003 and after the Spanish club went three seasons without a major trophy, the team won the league title in 2007.
- He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in July 2007 in a mega-money deal in a bid to promote soccer in the United States.
- Beckham won a second successive Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup at the end of 2012 and went back to Europe where he trained with Arsenal, although club manager Arsene Wenger said they were not interested in signing him.
- In March, China named Beckham as its first global soccer ambassador to revive the game's image there. Soccer in China was hit by a match-fixing scandal and an exodus of international stalwarts from the country's premier league. In his new role, Beckham, would be expected to help bring Chinese Super League (CSL) to the world stage and promote the game in the world's most populous country.
PARIS ST GERMAIN:
- After rumours in 2011 that Beckham was joining PSG - sports daily L'Equipe ran a front page saying "Le Voilà!" (Here he comes!), - he finally joined the Parisian club in January 2013 on a five-month deal. Beckham also announces his salary at PSG will be donated to a children's charity in Paris.
- Last month he picked up a straight red card as Paris St Germain continued their march towards a first French league title. They finally won that first championship in 19 years last Sunday with a 1-0 win at Olympique Lyon - with Beckham coming on in added time.
OFF THE PITCH
- Beckham met Victoria Adams in the mid-1990s when she was a member of pop group the Spice Girls. The perfect media match-up, the couple were instantly catapulted into the limelight.
- Beckham and Adams married in July 1999, a few months after their first son Brooklyn was born. They have three other children.
(Video Source: REUTERS)
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