Shock, agony and despair were the primary emotions that I felt on May 16th, 2013. History will remember it as the day my footballing idol, David Beckham brought an end to a playing career that spanned 20 years and 5 different clubs.
If you forget about his celebrity for a second you realize that David Beckham touched so many lives first and foremost by playing football. He loves the sport more than most players ever have. Many would have retired earlier with the type of money he’s earned in his career. Now that he’s retired, Beckham hopes to stay in the game as a brand ambassador and potential owner of an MLS franchise. He may now be retired from playing, but I have an inkling his impact will be felt for years to come.
Emerging through the ranks at Manchester United, he caught our attention with his eye for a pass and his accurate set-piece acumen. Beckham cemented his place as Man Utd’s right midfielder due to his precise crossing and big game performances. His fine form was rewarded with the legendary number 7 shirt. He followed in the footsteps of some of Man United’s true icons such as George Best, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona. After a bust up with Sir Alex Ferguson came a move to Real Madrid where he took the “Galactico” concept to a new level. Even with the likes of Raul, Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo it was Beckham who made the Galacticos … well .. the Galacticos. The highlight of his career as he will always point out at any given opportunity, was to play for and captain England. Nothing made him prouder than representing the three lions.
Beckham battled the popular view that he was a diva and to quote Fabio Capello “a B-list hollywood star”. Time and time again he turned doubters into believers and is now remembered for his professionalism, passion and family responsibility. Beckham’s constant return from seemingly dead end situations is what defines him. It started in the 1998 world cup where he got a (soft) red card against Argentina. The whole nation blamed the loss on the then 23 year old Beckham. Beckham received death threats from his own country men and was slaughtered in the media. Instead of capitulating, he fought and fought for redemption. He was booed at every away ground he went to but this did not deter the man. Instead of acting out, Beckham took everything in stride and led Manchester United to a historic treble in 1999. His standout performances for the next two years led to him being given the England captain’s armband. Fans realized his dedication, desire and quality when he single-handedly sealed qualification to the 2002 World cup with a true captain’s performance and THAT last-gasp free-kick against Greece.
His relationship turned sour with Ferguson in the infamous boot incident but instead of sulking, he played his socks off and it showed in the champions league games against Real Madrid. A few years later, he was frozen out of the Real Madrid line up due to a bust up with then coach Fabio Capello and yet again came back to play a pivotal role in Madrid’s La Liga title winning season only to be remembered as a Madrid fan favorite (which is almost impossible if you dont do step overs).
No player in football history has had to overcome so much adversity and win over doubters as many times as David Beckham. He was robbed of the FIFA World player of the year prize in 1999 underlining just how unappreciated Beckham’s talents were early on. As he calls time on his career, people now realize how good he was. I guess you don’t realize what you have until its gone.
Lest we forget Major League Soccer would not have seen the growth and international popularity it has now gained if not for David Beckham bringing his celebrity self to shores of the US. In the process he won back to back MLS Cups. Not bad David, not bad at all.
So thats what I think about the man. Lets hear from the people around him:
“He’s a winner. There’s no doubt about that, and it’s stating the obvious to say that he’s a tremendous talent.”
— Kevin Keegan
“He is a tremendous player and he has contributed so much to the success of Manchester United. He is a world-class performer, so any team would want to accommodate him.”
“He is the best passer of a ball in the world, and Real’s style fits him.”
— Ryan Giggs
“David impresses by his example on the field. He never stops running, he plays with supreme confidence, he always tries his hardest and he scores important goals.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson
Some people like to judge players on their stats, and they think its an easy way to argue Beckham isn’t a true great of the modern game. On the contrary, Beckham would be happy to flaunt his stats. Just over 20 years, 19 trophies and 100-plus England caps later, the 38-year-old is one of the most successful football players in the world. Personal accomplishments include,
1997 PFA Young Player of the Year,
1997 Sir Matt Busby Award,
1999 UEFA Best Midfielder,
1999 UEFA Most Valuable Player,
2000 World Footballer of The Year (2nd Place),
2001 ManUtd.com’s Player of the Season 2000/01,
2001 : World Footballer of The Year (2nd Place).
The following graphic show Beckham’s team awards, the ones he cares about most.
As Becks put it himself, people will always focus on his off the field fame and let it overshadow his on the field contributions. I am just grateful for him having made my childhood a great experience and giving me the opportunity to idolize him and be a great role model in my life. So, no Beckham will never be retired from football as far as I’m concerned. He will forever be remembered around the world as the most famous football player to have ever lived. Also, he will continue to be involved with the sport whether through the English football association or through his plans to own a football club. I wish him all the luck in the future.