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David Beckham to retire, ending riveting soccer journey


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With United between 1992 and 2003, Beckham won six Premier League titles, the Champions League, two FA Cups and the Intercontinental Cup.

Beckham left United in 2003 shortly after manager Alex Ferguson accidentally struck Beckham’s eye with a soccer boot. Ferguson announced his retirement from Manchester United last week.

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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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Beckham spent four years in Madrid — winning the 2007 Spanish title before making the surprise move to Major League Soccer, where he won the title twice.

"I just want people to see me as a hardworking footballer," Beckham said. "Someone who is passionate about the game, somebody who every time I have stepped on the pitch I have given everything that I have."

There were highs and lows in Beckham’s international career. He was blamed for England’s elimination from the 1998 World Cup for his red card against Argentina, but scored the winning goal against the same team at the World Cup four years later.

Beckham responded to jeering at the 2000 European Championship with an obscene hand gesture to England fans, but was lauded by the same supporters little more than a year later when his last-minute free kick against Greece secured a place at the 2002 World Cup.

England dropped Beckham in 2006 in an effort to renew the team with younger players after a quarterfinal exit at that year’s World Cup. England coach Steve McClaren recalled him the following year after a poor run of form, and he returned for the remainder of England’s unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2008 European Championship.

His last England appearance came against Belarus in October 2009, and he missed the 2010 World Cup because of an Achilles tendon injury. He still went to South Africa as part of Fabio Capello’s staff.

"I want to thank all my teammates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from," Beckham said. "I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed."

Beckham had already started planning for his post-playing career earlier in the season, becoming an ambassador for Chinese soccer.


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"Nothing will ever completely replace playing the game I love, however I feel like I’m starting a new adventure and I’m genuinely excited about what lies ahead," Beckham said. "I’m fortunate to have been given many opportunities throughout my career and now I feel it’s my time to give back."

Beckham played a key role in helping London win the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. He also was involved in England’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup, and the English Football Association wants to draw on his influence and star power in the future.

"He is an iconic figure in the game and produced wonderful performances for his clubs, particularly Manchester United," FA chairman David Bernstein said. "When you look at his playing and work for England, no one would ever accuse him of being unpatriotic and not giving everything for his country.

"He is a real loss to the game and I am sure the FA will want to embrace him and to get him closely associated with the organization."

Beckham’s retirement comes a week after the 71-year-old Ferguson ended his managerial career.

"In the week following Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, which came as a bit of a shock, now we have the iconic David Beckham coming out of the game," Bernstein said.



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