Former England captain and style icon David Beckham is to retire at the end of the season. After 20 years, his playing career ends with French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Former England captain David Beckham has announced his retirement from professional soccer at the end of the season, the English Football Association said on Thursday. The 38-year-old has been playing at Paris Saint-Germain this season.
He made his debut for Manchester United 20 years ago and has played for Real Madrid, AC Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham signed a 5-month deal at PSG in January 2013 and donated his salary to charity. He's the only English player to win league competitions in four different countries, but will remain best known for his years at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired last week. Beckham was part of United's golden generation of homegrown talent in the 1990's that helped propel the Ferguson empire to its unprecedented success.
"If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhood club Manchester United, proudly captained and played for my country over one hundred 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 realized those dreams," Beckham said.
End it like Beckham
"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." Beckham was England's first-choice captain from 2000 to 2006, last wearing the armband in 2008.
"I'm honored to represent England both on and off the pitch. ... I want to thank all my teammates, 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."
Beckham was a master of set-pieces; specializing in free-kicks and corners with his stronger right foot. Beckham was able to combine both pace and curl in equal measure and scored some of his more spectacular goals from dead ball situations.
Married to Victoria, or "Posh Spice" with the 1990s group the Spice Girls with whom he has four children, Beckham has attracted as much attention off the pitch as on it.
The son of a hairdresser and kitchen fitter from Leytonstone in east London, the popular press in Britain has tracked his every move.
Besides an extensive endorsement portfolio worth an estimated $37 million (28.6 million euros) in 2012, including deals with Burger King and Samsung, he launched a Bodywear line in 2012 with H&M as a partner.
Beckham previously said he planned to exercise his option to buy a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise at a discount when his playing career was finished.
jm/mkg (Reuters, dpa)