Luke Irelan-Hill summarises an extraordinary career and life.
“And Beckham saw Sullivan off his line. That is absolutely phenomenal. An astonishing goal by David Beckham from the halfway line. Sullivan couldn’t get back. Well you might expect Eric Cantona to do that, but he would have admired it. David Beckham, surely an England player of the future scores a goal that will be talked about and replayed for years. “
That is how BBC commentator Jon Motson described David Beckham’s goal from within his own half for Manchester United against Wimbledon and he got it just about spot on.
It was August of 1996, the venue was Selhurst Park and the opposition was Wimbledon Football Club. David Beckham looked up and saw Neil Sullivan off his line, and the rest is history as they say.
From that day he has gone on to become one of football’s most iconic figures, and he has finally decided it is time to hang up his boots at the end of the season.
The 38-year-old signed a five-month deal at Paris St Germain in January and donated all of his salary to charity. Despite calls for him to extend his stay in France, he has decided that the end of this season is the right time to call time on his playing career as he wants to retire whilst still playing at the top level of the game.
He has the most talked about right foot in the world and will retire with 115 appearances for England, a record number for an outfield player.
The England starlet certainly brought the world of celebrity and football together. Fast cars, big bucks, clothing line, famous wife; he has made the papers as often for his off-field antics as those that have happened on it.
The midfielder made his England debut against Moldova in 1996 and captained the side from 2000 to 2006, marking his 115th and final England appearance in a 3-0 win over Belarus in 2009.
However, during his international career he had an often love hate relationship with the English fans and media; but either way he always made the headlines. He was vilified by a nation when he was sent off against Argentina in the 1998 Fifa World Cup which took with it England’s hopes of lifting the trophy. But all was forgotten four years later when he scored a trademark free-kick in injury time against Greece to send England to the 2002 World Cup.
The England number 7 made himself a household name at Manchester United where he played 398 times, winning six Premier League titles and the Champions League in the famous treble winning team of 1999.
Becks came through the ranks at Manchester United with other world-wide profiles including Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes. With the latter two having called time on their illustrious careers it is no real surprise that at the age of 38 Beckham has decided to call time on his football playing career.
He may have had his disagreements with soon to retire Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, we all remember the boot kicking incident that led to the departure of Beckham from Old Trafford, and you could argue it is rather timely that two greats of the game are bowing out at the same time.
Including PSG’s recent Ligue 1 title win, Beckham has won 19 trophies – 10 of them league titles – in a playing career spanning 20 years, and is the only English player to win championships in four countries.
Beckham moved to Real Madrid in 2003, winning La Liga with them in 2007 before a switch to the United States with LA Galaxy.
Many believed that his move to America was purely based on money, however there can be no denying that he conquered the US with his natural football ability, his passion, commitment, and above all for the world-wide scope that follows his name. There was no limit for one of England’s most successful ever footballers.
There is no debating that David Beckham is a great player. He made the very most of his talents through sheer hard work and professionalism, but above all he was a winner. If anyone comes close to having a career quite like David Beckham in the future, then you can bet your money that they have done very well for themselves.
Overall Career Stats
115 international caps (a record for an outfield player)
58 times captain of England
6 English Premier League titles
2 English FA Cup wins
1 Champions League win
1 La Liga title
2 MLS Cup wins
1 Ligue 1 title