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David Beckham to retire, ending riveting soccer journey
First Published May 16 2013 08:58 am • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:31 pm

LONDON • David Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity.

The 38-year-old former England captain, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday he will quit after the season.

At a glance

David Beckham career highlights

Highlights in the career of David Beckham, who said Thursday he will retire from soccer at the end of the season:

1991 » Joins Manchester United as trainee.

1993 » Signs professional contract at Old Trafford.

1996 » Wins first FA Cup and Premier League title at Manchester United; Scores goal of season with shot from halfway line; Makes England debut against Moldova.

1997 » Wins second Premier League medal at United; Voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

1998 » Scores first England goal against Colombia at World Cup; Sent off against Argentina and briefly becomes hated figure in England.

1999 » Wins third Premier League title at Man United, along with FA Cup and Champions League trophies; Runner-up in World Player of the Year awards.

2000 » Wins fourth Premier League title medal at Man United; chosen England captain.

2001 » Wins fifth Premier League title at Man United; Curls in last-minute free kick against Greece to send England to World Cup.

2003 » Man United manager Alex Ferguson accidentally kicks boot into Beckham’s face after FA Cup loss to Arsenal; wins sixth Premier League medal; Awarded OBE for services to soccer; moves to Real Madrid and wins Spanish Super Cup.

2004 » Misses penalty as England loses to Portugal in shootout in Euro 2004 quarterfinals.

2005 » Captains England for 50th time in friendly against Argentina in Geneva.

2006 » Quits as England captain after World Cup quarterfinal exit to Portugal; Dropped from England squad for friendly against Greece.

2007 » Wins Spanish league with Real Madrid; Joins Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy on five-year contract; Gets England recall.

2008 » Makes 100th England appearance.

2009 » Joins AC Milan on loan; Wins 109th cap to break Bobby Moore’s record for an outfield player, makes 115th and final appearance against Belarus.

2010 » Tears Achilles tendon and misses World Cup.

2011 » Wins MLS Cup with Galaxy.

2012 » Re-signs with Galaxy and wins second MLS Cup.

2013 » Signs five-month contract with Paris Saint-Germain, donating salary to a children’s charity; PSG clinches French league title, Beckham becomes first Englishman to win league titles in four different countries.

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"It’s a good way to go out," Beckham said in Paris. "It’s every athlete’s dream, every footballer’s dream to go out on the top — on top form or winning a trophy ... leaving as a champion."

Beckham, whose curling free kicks and pinpoint crosses became his signature as a player, has two more matches left at PSG — against Brest on Saturday and at Lorient on May 26. He has been giving his salary to a children’s charity.

Asked what led to his decision, Beckham replied with a laugh: "Probably when (Lionel) Messi was running past me in that home game," referring to PSG’s Champions League match against Barcelona last month.

Beckham started his career with Manchester United and also played for Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning titles with all those clubs. He played on loan with AC Milan and made 115 appearance for his country, a record in England for someone other than a goalkeeper.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter described the midfielder as "one of the most iconic figures in global football."

"It’s the end of a chapter of an amazing story," Blatter wrote on Twitter. "David grew up as a football loving child & achieved his dreams, and unquestionably inspired millions of boys & girls to try & do the same.

"Whatever he chooses to do next I’m sure he’ll approach with the same dedication & good grace he displayed the last 21 years."

Beckham’s fame went beyond the field, with his haircuts and clothing scrutinized as often as his play, earning him a string of lucrative sponsorship deals.


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"Sometimes that has overshadowed what I have done on the pitch or what I have achieved on the pitch," Beckham said in a television interview conducted by former United teammate Gary Neville. "And as much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does.

"I am a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world and played with some of the best players in the world, played under some of the biggest and best managers and achieved almost everything in football."

Beckham was immortalized with the 2002 movie "Bend it Like Beckham," which told the story of a British teenage girl of south Asian heritage struggling with family pressures and cultural expectations to play the sport she loves. Beckham’s retirement led to a flood of tweets dubbing the day "End it Like Beckham."

"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," Beckham said. "I’m fortunate to have realized those dreams."

It was his appearances with England’s national team that raised his profile internationally.

"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 honored to represent England both on and off the pitch."

Beckham is now living in London with wife Victoria, a former "Spice Girls" singer, and their four children.

"I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done today without my family. I’m grateful for my parents’ sacrifice, which made me realize my dreams," he said. "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."

Victoria Beckham said the couple is "excited about the next chapter in our lives."

"The children and I are so proud of David. It’s been an incredible journey for us all as we have watched him play at clubs all over the world throughout the last 15 years," she said.

"Myself and the children have cheered him from the stands, as he has held high trophies ... this was not an easy decision to make, and to me and the children he will always be an amazing sportsman and a devoted husband and father."

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