After two decades of soccer highlights (and some lowlights), English soccer player and international star David Beckham announced on Thursday (May 16) his retirement at the end of this season.
Beckham, who currently plays for the French team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), began his professional soccer career playing for the English team Manchester United in 1993. With Man U, Beckham won the UEFA Champions League in 1999, six Premier League (English first division) titles, and two F A Cups.
He told reporters today that he wanted to finish his football career "at the top", and he said in an interview, perhaps jokingly, that he decided to retire when Argentine superstar Lionel Messi breezed past him during PSG's recent Champions League quarterfinal-round loss to Barcelona.
In 394 games with United, "Becks", as he was affectionately known, scored 85 goals. He quickly gained a reputation as a master of the free kick, demonstrating an uncanny ability to bend the ball over or around defensive walls. Ultimately, more than half of his career goals came from such set pieces.
In 1996, Beckham made his first appearance with the England national squad, for which he played 115 games and scored 17 times, including a famous last-minute free-kick goal against Greece in 2001 that was responsible for England qualifying for the World Cup the next year.
He was villified by some English fans after getting red-carded and thrown out of a 1998 World Cup game against Argentina that many contended was responsible for England’s ouster from that tournament.
Beckham, who captained the national squad for six years and 58 games, was the first England player to score in three World Cups, and he last played for his national side in 2009, against Belarus.
After 10 years of playing for United, Beckham was sold for 35 million euros to the star-studded Spanish team Real Madrid, where during four years of being one of its most popular players, he scored 20 goals in 115 games and won the Spanish league and the Spanish Supercup.
His next team, the Los Angeles Galaxy of North America’s Major League Soccer, probably benefited more from his presence than vice versa: Beckham attracted tens of thousands of spectators there and at away games and raised the profile of both the team and the league.
During his time with Los Angeles, David Beckham scored 20 goals in 118 games and won two MLS titles. While a Galaxy player, he also joined legendary Italian team A C Milan on loan two different times, playing 33 games and scoring two goals.
In January this year, Beckham signed a contract with France’s Paris Saint-Germain and donated his salary to children’s charities in that country. Although he scored no goals in 11 games with PSG, he added the French league title to his list of career achievements, becoming the first English player to win national leagues in four different countries.
He declined the offer of another year with the club, and he has two games remaining in his current season.
Beckham concludes his brilliant soccer career with 114 goals between 1993 and 2013, 65 of which came from his trademark free kick.