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David Beckham

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David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE (pronounced IPA: /'bɛk.əm/) (born 2 May 1975) is an English professional footballer who has just capped off his Real Madrid career in style, with a June 2007 La Liga title. Earlier in the year, he was signed by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, and will be introduced formally by them as a player on 13 July 2007[3]. He is also currently a member - and from 2000 to 2006 was the captain - of the England national squad.

In addition to his success on the pitch, Beckham has been recognized by Time magazine as one of the Time 100 (Heroes & Icons),[4], and has received many other accolades for his charitable work and leadership off the pitch. Most recently, he was given the "Britain's Greatest Ambassador" award in May 2007.[5]

In the early 2000's, Beckham was the world's highest-paid player, and is today well-known as an elite global advertising brand.[6]

Beckham's career began when he signed a professional contract with Manchester United, making his debut first-team appearance in 1992, at the age of 17. While with Manchester United he played a key role in their dominance of the FA Premier League in the 1990s and early 2000s, being pivotal in accomplishing The Treble of the League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League in 1999. He left the club to become only the third Englishman to sign for Real Madrid in 2003, after Laurie Cunningham and Steve McManaman, helping them to win the Supercopa de España in 2003 and the La Liga title in 2007.

Beckham was captain of the English national team from 15 November 2000 to 2 July 2006. Beckham stood down as captain in 2006, after England's quarter-final exit at the World Cup.[7] He was dropped from the England national team squad selected by coach Steve McClaren on 11 August 2006,[8] an exile that lasted nine international games, until 26 May 2007, when McClaren named him as one of the England squad for upcoming games against Brazil and Estonia.[9]

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On 10 January 2007, Real Madrid Sporting Director Predrag Mijatovic announced Beckham would leave the club when his contract expires in June 2007. On 11 January 2007, Beckham agreed to a move to the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Los Angeles Galaxy on a five year contract commencing on 1 July 2007, after his existing deal with Real Madrid expires.[10]

On 17 June 2007, he played his final match with Real Madrid, and they won the 2007 La Liga title, their first since Beckham had signed with them.

On 26 June 2007, his first major U.S. ad campaign since finishing with Real Madrid made its debut via the web. Titled "Futbol Meets Football", it pairs him with NFL player Reggie Bush in a 13-week television, radio, and online blitz by adidas[11].

On 28 June 2007, Major League Soccer announced that he would be introduced as an LA Galaxy player officially to the press and to fans on 13 July[12].

Childhood and early career

Beckham was born in Leytonstone, London, England the son of David Edward Alan "Ted" Beckham, a kitchen fitter and Manchester United fan, and Sandra Georgina West,[13] a hairdresser. He regularly played football in Ridgeway Park, Chingford as a child. His maternal grandfather, Joseph West, is Jewish,[14] and Beckham has spoken of the influence the religion has had on him but is not known to practice Judaism or any other faith, though he stated in his book Both Feet on the Ground that growing up he always attended church with his parents and sisters.

His parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who would frequently travel to Old Trafford from London to attend Manchester United's home matches. David inherited his parents' love of Manchester United and his main sporting passion was football. He attended one of Bobby Charlton's football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona, as part of a talent competition. As a child he played for a local youth team called the Ridgeway Rovers coached by his father, Stuart Underwood and Steve Kirby.

He was Manchester United's mascot for a match against West Ham United in 1986. Young Beckham had trials with his local club, Leyton Orient, and attended Tottenham Hotspur's, which was the first club he played for, school of excellence. He also attended Bradenton Preparatory Academy, but signed schoolboy forms at Manchester United on his fourteenth birthday, and subsequently signed a Youth Training Scheme contract on 8 July 1991.

He was part of an exceptionally talented group of young players at the club who guided the club to win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, with Beckham scoring in the second leg[15] of the final against Crystal Palace. He made his first appearance for United's first-team that year, as a substitute in a League Cup match against the glorious Brighton & Hove Albion, and signed his first professional contract shortly afterwards. United reached the final of the Youth Cup again the following year, with Beckham playing in their defeat by Leeds United, and he won another medal in 1994 when the club's reserve team won their league.

He went to Preston North End on loan in the 1994–95 season to get some first team experience, then made his first Premier League appearance for Manchester United on 2 April 1995, in a goalless draw against Leeds United.

Manchester United

Becoming a first-team player

United manager Alex Ferguson had a great deal of confidence in the club's young players. When three of his first-team players left the club at the end of the 1994-95 season, his decision to let youth team players replace them instead of buying players from other clubs, drew a great deal of criticism. The criticism increased when United started the season with a 3–1 defeat at Aston Villa,[16] with Beckham scoring United's only goal of the game; however, United won their next five matches and the young players performed well. Beckham became a regular player on the team and helped them to win the Premiership and FA Cup double that season, scoring the winner in the semi-final against Chelsea and also taking the corner that Éric Cantona scored from in the FA Cup Final. Still, Beckham's form was not good enough to break into the England squad before Euro 96.

In August 1996, Beckham became something of a household name when he scored a spectacular goal in a match against Wimbledon. With United ahead 2–0, Beckham noticed that Wimbledon's goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was standing a long way out of his goal, and hit a shot from the halfway line that floated over the goalkeeper and into the net.[17] Beckham was frequently mentioned in the press, and he made his first appearance for the England national football team on 1 September 1996, in a World Cup qualifying match against Moldova. He became an automatic first-choice player at United during the 1996-97 season, helping them to retain the Premier League championship, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers.

United started the 1997-98 season well, but their performance deteriorated when several players got injured. They finished the season in second place, behind Arsenal.

World Cup 1998

Beckham had played in all of England's qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and was part of the England squad at the World Cup finals in France,[18] but the team's manager Glenn Hoddle publicly accused him of not concentrating on the tournament,[19] and he did not start in either of England's first two matches. He was picked for their third match against Colombia and scored from a long-range free kick in a 2–0 victory, which was his first goal for England.

In the Second Round (last 16) of that competition, he received a red card in England's match against Argentina.[20] Beckham, after having been fouled by Diego Simeone, appeared to kick out at Diego Simeone, striking him on the calf. Simeone later admitted to trying to get Beckham sent off by over-reacting to the kick and then, along with other members of his team, urging the referee to send Beckham off.[21] The match finished in a draw and England were eliminated in a penalty shootout. Many supporters and journalists blamed him for England's elimination and he became the target of criticism and abuse, including the hanging of an effigy outside a London pub, and the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with a picture of him centred on the bullseye. Beckham also received death threats after the World Cup and the incident is also the topic for his Adidas advert. [22]

1998-99 season (the Treble)

In the 1998-99 season, he was part of the United team that won the treble — Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, a unique feat in English football. There had been speculation that the criticism that he had received after being sent off in the World Cup would lead to him leaving England, but he decided to stay at Manchester United.

Throughout the season, Beckham was jeered by opposition supporters whenever he touched the ball, but he consistently played well and his crossing provided a significant number of goals for United's forwards Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. United's supporters had mostly forgiven him for the problems he'd had with England, and were frequently heard to chant "Argentina" in response to the other supporters' taunts.

To ensure they would win the league championship, United needed to win their final league match of the season, at home to Tottenham Hotspur, but Tottenham took an early lead in the match. Beckham scored the equaliser and United went on to win the match and the league.

Beckham played centre-midfield in United's FA Cup final win over Newcastle United and for the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, since United's first string centre-midfielders were suspended for the match. United were losing the match 1 to 0 at the end of normal time, but won the trophy by scoring two goals in injury time. Both of the goals came from corners taken by Beckham. Those kicks, coupled with great performances over the rest of the season, led to him finishing runner up to Rivaldo for 1999's European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

1999-2000 season

Despite Beckham's achievements in the 1998-99 season, he was still unpopular among some opposition fans and journalists, and he was criticised after being sent off for a deliberate foul in Manchester United's World Club Championship match against Necaxa. It was suggested in the press that his wife was a bad influence on him, and that it might be in United's interests to sell him,[23] but his manager publicly backed him and he stayed at the club.

The relationship between Ferguson and Beckham began to deteriorate, possibly as a result of Beckham's fame and commitments away from football. In 2000, Beckham was given permission to miss training to look after his son Brooklyn, who had gastroenteritis, but Ferguson was furious when Victoria Beckham was photographed at a London Fashion Week event on the same night, claiming that Beckham would have been able to train if Victoria had looked after Brooklyn that day. He responded by fining Beckham the maximum amount that was permitted (two weeks' wages – then £50,000) and dropping him for a crucial match against United's rivals Leeds United. He later criticised Beckham for this in his autobiography, claiming he hadn't been "fair to his team mates".[24] Beckham had a good season for his club, though, and helped United to win the Premier League by a record margin.

Winning over the England fans

The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England's 3–2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, a match where Beckham had two assists, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match.[25] Beckham responded with a one-fingered gesture and, while the gesture attracted some criticism, many of the newspapers that had previously encouraged his vilification asked their readers to stop abusing him.[26]

On 15 November 2000, following Kevin Keegan's resignation as England manager in October, Beckham was promoted to team captain by the caretaker manager Peter Taylor, and then kept the role under new manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. He helped England to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals, with their performances including an impressive 5–1 victory over Germany in Munich. The final step in Beckham's conversion from villain to hero happened in England's 2–2 draw against Greece on 6 October 2001. England needed to win or draw the match in order to qualify outright for the World Cup, but were losing 2–1 with little time remaining. The rest of the England team were playing relatively poorly, and it was Beckham's inspirational performance that lifted his teammates. When Teddy Sheringham was fouled some eight yards outside the Greek penalty area, England were awarded a free-kick and Beckham ensured England's qualification with a curling strike of the kind that had become his trademark. Shortly afterwards, he was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2001. He once again finished runner-up, to Luís Figo of Portugal, for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Metatarsal injury

On 10 April 2002, Beckham was injured during a Champions League match against Deportivo La Coruña, breaking the second metatarsal bone in his left foot. There was speculation in the British media that the injury might have been caused deliberately, as the player who had injured Beckham was Argentinian Aldo Duscher, and England and Argentina were due to meet in that year's World Cup.[27] The injury prevented Beckham from playing for United for the rest of the season, but he signed a three-year contract in May, following months of negotiations with the club, mostly concerning extra payments for his image rights. The income from his new contract, and his many endorsement deals, made him the highest-paid player in the world at the time.[28]

World Cup 2002 and final season at United

He was partially fit by the time of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and played in the first match against Sweden. Beckham scored the winning goal of the match against Argentina with a penalty, causing Argentina to fail to qualify for the knockout stage. England were knocked out of the tournament in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Brazil. The following month, at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Beckham escorted Kirsty Howard as she presented the Jubilee Baton to the Queen.

Following an injury early in the 2002-03 season, Beckham was unable to regain his place on the Manchester United team, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær having replaced him on the right side of midfield. His relationship with his manager deteriorated further on 15 February 2003 when, in the changing room following a defeat to Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson kicked a football boot that struck Beckham over the eye, causing a cut that required stitches. The incident led to a great deal of transfer speculation involving Beckham, with bookmakers offering odds on whether he or Ferguson would be first to leave the club.[29] Although the team had started the season badly, their results improved greatly from December onwards and they won the league. He was still a first-choice player for England, however, and he was awarded an OBE for services to football on 13 June.[30]

During his 11-year stint at United, Beckham made 266 appearances for them and scored 61 goals.

He won 6 Premiership titles, 2 FA Cup's, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FA Youth Cup with his time at United.

Real Madrid

Manchester United had been keen to sell Beckham to Barcelona[31] but he refused to go there, instead signing a four-year contract with Real Madrid, worth a potential €35 million.[32] The transfer was completed on 1 July and made him the third Englishman to play for the club after Laurie Cunningham and Steve McManaman. It was speculated that Real's desire to sign him came from the merchandising opportunities he would bring as well as from his football ability. For example, Real Madrid shirts bearing his name and number sold out in Madrid on the day his transfer was completed and the club were expected to receive €624,000 for the sale of the shirts. Although Beckham had worn the number seven shirt for Manchester United and England, he was unable to wear it at Madrid as Raúl had the right to wear it written into his contract. He decided to wear number 23 instead, citing his admiration of basketball player Michael Jordan, who also wore the number 23 shirt, as the reason behind his decision.[33]

Source

Beckham (right) and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid

First season 2003-04

Real Madrid finished the season in a disappointing fourth place, and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage. But, Beckham immediately became a favourite with the Real Madrid supporters, scoring five times in his first 16 matches, but the team, whose club president expected them to win either the Spanish league or the Champions League each season, was not performing well. He had further problems in April 2004, when the British tabloid News of the World carried claims by his former personal assistant Rebecca Loos that he and Loos had had an extramarital affair. A week later, the Malaysian-born Australian model Sarah Marbeck claimed that she had slept with Beckham on two occasions. Beckham dismissed both accusations as "ludicrous".[34]

Euro 2004

Beckham played in all of England's matches at Euro 2004, but the tournament was a disappointment for him. He had a penalty saved in England's 2-1 defeat to France and badly missed another in a penalty shootout in the quarter final against Portugal. England lost the shootout and went out of the competition.

Second season, 2004-05

In July 2004, while Beckham was in pre-season training in Spain, an intruder scaled a wall at the Beckhams' home while carrying a can of petrol. Victoria and their children were in the house at the time, but security guards apprehended the man before he reached the house.[35] Beckham made more headlines on 9 October 2004 when he admitted intentionally fouling Ben Thatcher in an England match against Wales in order to get himself booked. Beckham was due to receive a one-match suspension for his next caution, and had picked up an injury which he knew would keep him out of England's next match, so he deliberately fouled Thatcher in order to serve his suspension in a match that he would have had to miss anyway. The Football Association asked Beckham for an explanation of his actions and he admitted that he had "made a mistake" and apologised.[36]

Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in January 2005 and was involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.[37]

Third season, 2005-06

Real Madrid had another disappointing season, finishing second to Barcelona (with a 12 point gap) in the La Liga and only reaching the last sixteen in the Champions League after losing to Arsenal by a goal. Although there is the notable fact that Beckham led La Liga in assists for the season.

In October 2005, Beckham's sending off against Austria made him the first ever England captain to be sent off and the first (and only) player to be sent off twice while playing for England. He captained England for the 50th time in a friendly international against Argentina the following month. He was sent off again shortly afterwards, this time in a league match for Real Madrid against Valencia CF. Having received a yellow card, he appeared to sarcastically applaud the referee and was given a second yellow card, causing an automatic dismissal, although the suspension was cancelled on appeal two days later. He was sent off for the third time that season on 3 December 2005 in a league match against Getafe.

During the season, Beckham established football academies in Los Angeles and east London and he was named a judge for the 2006 British Book Awards.[38]

Fourth season, 2006-07

Real Madrid won their first Spanish La Liga title in 3 years because of their superior head-to-head record against Barcelona, giving Beckham his first title since he joined Real Madrid. Intially out of favour with manager Fabio Capello, Beckham started only a few games at the beginnning of the season, as Jose Antonio Reyes was normally preferred on the right wing. In the first nine matches Beckham started, Real lost seven.

On 10 January 2007, after prolonged contract negotiations, Real Madrid's sporting director Predrag Mijatović announced that Beckham would not remain at Real Madrid after the end of the season. However, he later claimed that he was mistranslated and that he actually said that Beckham's contract had not been renewed yet.[39]

On 11 January 2007 Beckham announced that he had signed a five-year deal to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1 July 2007. The deal is worth $250 million over the 5 years. On 13 January 2007 Fabio Capello said that Beckham had played his last game for Real Madrid, although he would continue to train with the team.[40] Capello back-tracked on that statement and Beckham rejoined the team for their match against Real Sociedad on 10 February 2007 – he scored and Real Madrid won.[41] However the next game at home against Real Betis ended up with Beckham being shown a straight red card for a professional foul in the 90th minute.But in the next UEFA Champions League match vs Bayern Munich, he carried out two assists to help Real Madrid win by 3-2. This match marked his final appearance in the UEFA Champions League as Real Madrid were knocked out of the competition (by the away goals rule) at the conclusion of their second leg away tie in Munich on 7 March 2007. He has made a total of 103 appearances in the Champions League, the third highest number of any player at the time.

After his good performances for Real Madrid, Steve McClaren announced Beckham could be recalled for England's two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra. However on 4 March 2007 Beckham damaged a ligament in his right knee during a game between Real Madrid and Getafe CF. Following a cross his momentum carried him into an advertising boarding along the touchline causing him to go down. On 21 April 2007 he marked his return from injury by coming off the bench to set up the winning goal for Sergio Ramos in a 2-1 victory over Valencia.

On 26 May 2007, Steve McClaren announced that Beckham would be recalled to the England squad for the first time since relinquishing the captaincy after England's exit from the 2006 World Cup. Beckham started against Brazil in England's first match at the new Wembley and put in a positive performance and had a first half free-kick just brush the post. However in the second half he set up England's goal as he sent in a beautifully weighted cross to be converted by captain John Terry. It looked as though England would claim victory over Brazil however newcomer Diego equalised in the dying seconds. In next match vs Estonia, Beckham sent two trademark assists for John Terry and Peter Crouch, helping England to win 3-0 in the match.

On 17 June 2007, the last day of the La Liga season, Beckham was passed fit to start in his last match for the club, a 3-1 win over Mallorca, which saw them clinch the title from Barcelona. Although both finished level on points, Madrid took the title because of their superior head-to-head record, capping a remarkable six-month turnaround for Beckham.

World Cup 2006

During the FIFA World Cup 2006, England were seen as potential winners by many, but since the start of the competition the team had several slow paced matches and Beckham's performance was criticised by the majority of the press and public. However, many still considered Beckham's contribution to England important as the team progressed to the quarter-finals of the tournament.

In England's opening game against Paraguay on 10 June 2006 Beckham's free kick led to an own-goal by Carlos Gamarra, and England won 1-0. In England's next match, played against Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June 2006, Beckham's cross in the 83rd minute led to Peter Crouch's goal which put England ahead 1-0. Beckham gave another assist to Steven Gerrard. In the end they won 2-0. He was named Man-of-the-Match by tournament sponsor Budweiser for this game. The English media criticised Beckham's performance in England's final Group B match against Sweden on 20 June 2006, citing his apparent inability to take the ball around players as an increasing hindrance to England's chances of winning the World Cup.

During England's second round match against Ecuador, Beckham scored from a free kick in the 59th minute, becoming the first ever English player to score in three World Cups,[42] and giving England a 1-0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals. He was sick before the game and vomited several times as a result of dehydration and illness after he scored the winning goal.

In the quarter finals stage of the World Cup against Portugal, Beckham was substituted following an injury shortly after half time and the England team went on to lose the match on penalties (3-1), the scores having been 0-0 after extra time. After his substitution, Beckham was visibly shaken and emotional for not being able to play, being in tears at one point.

A day after England were knocked out of the World Cup, an emotional Beckham made a statement in a news conference saying that he had stepped down as England captain,[43] saying, "It has been an honour and privilege to captain my country but, having been captain for 58 of my 95 games, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under Steve McClaren". Note that Beckham had actually won 94 caps up to that point, an error on his part. He was then succeeded by Chelsea captain John Terry.[44]

Having stepped down as captain after the World Cup, Beckham was dropped completely from the England national team selected by new coach Steve McClaren on 11 August 2006. McClaren claimed that he was "looking to go in a different direction" with the team, and that Beckham "wasn't included within that". McClaren said Beckham could be recalled in future. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kieran Richardson and the World Cup alternative to Beckham Aaron Lennon were all included, although McClaren eventually opted to employ Steven Gerrard in that role.

There was talk that McClaren could recall Beckham after Aaron Lennon sustained an injury in early September and Owen Hargreaves subsequently broke his leg. However despite pressure from the media and high profile sports figures Bobby Robson, Glenn Hoddle, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen all saying he should be in the England team, McClaren did not recall Beckham. In December, 2006, McClaren suggested that Steven Gerrard had supplanted Beckham's role in the team: "We all know about David Beckham and his delivery from the right-hand side. But Stevie's set-plays and crosses from the right are as good as anybody in the world."[45]

England recall

On 26 May 2007 David Beckham was recalled to the national team for the first time since the 2006 World Cup after some excellent performances for Real Madrid and after England's poor form during qualification for Euro 2008.[46] Beckham's comeback game was against Brazil in a friendly international, England's first game at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium, on June 1, 2007, where Beckham set up his successor as England captain John Terry with a trademark cross from a free kick. Beckham also started England's Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia, a match that England won 3—0. Beckham assisted three of England's total of four goals in those two games.[47] He has stated his intent to continue to play for England after his move to the MLS. The LA Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas stated he would not stand in the way of a player representing his country, and would not stop Beckham from doing so, but that they would have to be appropriate games.[48] However, FIFA have said that if Beckham is called up for any England match, Galaxy must release him as per FIFA rules.[49]

L.A. Galaxy and U.S. Soccer

It was confirmed on 11 January 2007 that David Beckham would be leaving Real Madrid to join MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy on a 5 year deal worth $250 million that will see Beckham earn up to $10 million a year in direct salary, but with endorsements and profit-sharing, Beckham could earn up to $50 million a year and earning about 90 dollars every second on the field.[50] Beckham said, "After considering several options to stay in Madrid or join other major British and European teams, I have decided to join LA Galaxy."[10]

On 12 January 2007, Beckham's official press conference was held, via satellite from Madrid, in conjunction with the 2007 MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis. All MLS announcements concerning Beckham's signing and his press conference (as well as the Super Draft) were a part of the NSCAA National Soccer Coaches Association of America annual convention.[51] At the press conference, Beckham told reporters "I'm coming there not to be a superstar. I'm coming there to be part of the team, to work hard and to hopefully win things. With me, it's about football. I'm coming there to make a difference. I'm coming there to play football... I'm not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America. That would be difficult to achieve. Baseball, basketball, American football, they've been around. But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference."[52]

On 14 January 2007, when a new "SuperLiga" was announced for a new North American championship, it was reported that Beckham could make his Galaxy debut during that tournament.[53]

On 17 January 2007, the U.S. publication Sports Illustrated released a detailed report on the blockbuster contract and the economics behind it.[54]

Source

Beckham pictured during his time with Real Madrid

On 10 June 2007, after several months when Beckham had been instrumental in Real's push for the La Liga title, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón revealed that they still hoped to keep Beckham and claimed that a clause existed in the deal Beckham signed with LA Galaxy that Real could still keep him if Beckham wished to stay.[55]. However, Beckham's agent stated that Beckham intended to honor the contract and LA Galaxy president and general manager Alexi Lalas stated that there was no escape clause[56].

On 17 June 2007, he played his final match with Real Madrid, and although he limped pff the field and was replaced, his sub made two goals and the team won the 2007 La Liga title, their first since Beckham had signed with them.

On 26 June 2007, his first major U.S. ad campaign since finishing with Real Madrid made its debut via the web. Titled "Futbol Meets Football", it pairs him with NFL star Reggie Bush in a 13-week television, radio, and online blitz by adidas[57].

On 28 June 2007, Major League Soccer announced that he would be introduced as an LA Galaxy player officially to the press and to fans on 13 July[58].

Discipline

Beckham spent long hours on the training pitch honing his talents to perfection, particularly his trademark free kick. Former manager Sir Alex Ferguson said that he "practiced with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn't care about".[59] He maintained his training routine at Real Madrid and even when his relationship with management was strained in early 2007, Ramon Calderon and Fabio Capello have praised Beckham for maintaining his professionalism and commitment to the club.[60][61]

Beckham was the first England player to ever collect two red cards and the first captain to be sent off for the England team.[62] Beckham's most notorious red was during the 1998 FIFA World Cup: after Argentina's Diego Simeone had fouled him, Beckham appeared to lash out with his leg and the Argentine timed his fall to make it appear that he had been kicked. At the time, Beckham's reaction was mostly criticized as selfish and bad sportsmanship on Beckham's part and the front page of the Daily Mirror read "10 heroic lions,one stupid boy". England went on to lose the game on penalties, Beckham was vilified back in England for the act but was later to redeem himself with many sterling performances. He was also somewhat vindicated as Simeone's "fall" was criticized as an example of the Argentines' play-acting, and Simeone himself later admitted to purposely trying to foul Beckham.

For Real Madrid he far amassed 26 yellow cards and 4 red cards.[63]

Beckham has also been described as a "gentleman" multiple times. During his time as England captain, Beckham helped to keep Wayne Rooney's temper in check on several occasions.[64]

Honours

With Manchester United (1992 - 2003)

  • FA Premier League - Champion (6): 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2002-03
  • FA Premier League - Runner Up: 1994-95, 1997-98
  • FA Youth Cup Winner: 1992
  • FA Cup Winner (2): 1996, 1999
  • FA Cup Runner Up: 1995
  • UEFA Champions League Winner: 1998-99
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1999
  • UEFA Super Cup Runner Up: 1999
  • Community Shield Winner (5): 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003
  • Community Shield Runner Up: 1998, 2000, 2001
  • FIFA World Player Of The Year Award runner-up in 1999 and 2001

With Real Madrid (2003 - 2007)

  • Supercopa de España (1): 2003
  • Primera División Champion (1): 2006-2007

Special

  • Named in Pelé's FIFA 100 list of the greatest living players.[65]

Personal life

In 1997, Beckham started dating Victoria Adams, widely known as "Posh Spice" of the pop music group Spice Girls, and their relationship attracted a great deal of media interest. The couple were dubbed "Posh and Becks" by the media. He proposed to Victoria on 24 January 1998 in a restaurant in Cheshunt, England.

He married Adams at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on 4 July 1999, and her name changed to Victoria Beckham. The wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham's teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple's son Brooklyn, then four months old, was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony, as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! Magazine, but newspapers were still able to obtain photographs showing them sitting on golden thrones.[66] 437 staff were employed for the wedding reception, which was estimated to have cost £500,000.[67]

The Beckhams have three sons: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born 1999), Romeo James Beckham (2002) and Cruz David Beckham (2005).

In an 3 April 2006 interview, Beckham told The Daily Mail that he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.[68]

Fame beyond football

Beckham's fame extends beyond the pitch; in much of the world his name is "as instantly recognisable as that of multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM."[69] Beckham's relationship and marriage to Victoria, who had been famous in her own right as part of the musical group Spice Girls, contributed towards him becoming a major celebrity outside of football. He has recently moved into the world of aftershave along with Victoria with the release of his own line of scents, David Beckham Instinct. The Beckhams are reported to be getting paid $13.7 million to launch their perfume in the US. (25 January 2007). Beckham's name was searched for on Google more than that of any other sporting personality in 2003 and 2004.[70]

Charitable work

  • Beckham is currently a spokesman for Malaria No More, a New York-based nonprofit launched in 2006. Malaria No More's mission is to end deaths caused by malaria in Africa. Beckham was filmed in a Public Service Announcement advertising the need for nets, which was aired nationally and locally on FOX Network, as well as posted on the web on popular pages such as MySpace and YouTube[71]
  • Beckham has supported UNICEF since his days at Manchester United and in January 2005 the England Football Captain became a Goodwill Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF's Sports for Development program.
  • On 17 January 2007, Rebecca Johnstone, a 19-year-old cancer patient in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada had a surprise phone call from Beckham. After the conversation, he sent her a Real Madrid Jersey with his signature on it. Rebecca passed away on 29 January 2007.[72]

Appearances in films

Bend It Like Beckham

Beckham never personally appeared in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham except in archive footage. He and his wife wanted to make cameo appearances but scheduling proved difficult, so the director used lookalikes instead.[73]

The Goal! Trilogy

"Beckham" (actually a look-alike) makes a cameo appearance with Zidane and Raùl in the 2005 fictional film Goal! where he says hello to the main character during a party about halfway through the film. In Goal! 2: Living the Dream...,[74] the real Beckham appears as himself, when the film's lead gets a spot in the Real Madrid squad. This 2006 sequel is also the second part of a trilogy, and the story this time centres around the Real Madrid team. Besides Beckham, other real life Real Madrid players also appear on and off the pitch alongside the fictional characters.

Records

Beckham captained England 58 times during his tenure as England captain.

With his free kick goal against Ecuador in the second round of the 2006 World Cup, Beckham gained membership into two of football's most exclusive clubs: he became the only English player — and the 21st player regardless of nationality — to score in three world cups. Real Madrid team-mate Raùl also achieved this feat a few days earlier.[75] It also made him only the fifth player in World Cup history to score twice from direct free kicks; the other four were Pelé, Rivelino, Teófilo Cubillas and Bernard Genghini (Beckham had previously scored this way against Colombia in the first round of the 1998 World Cup). All three goals were against South American teams (Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador) and from set pieces (the two aforementioned free kicks and a penalty against Argentina).

Tattoos controversy

Beckham has many tattoos on his body, one of which is the name of his wife Victoria but it is written in Hindi rather than English because Beckham thought it would be "tacky" to have it written in English. The tattoo is misspelt, however, so the tattoo actually reads "Vhictoria" rather than "Victoria".[76] Another tattoo, written in Hebrew reads אני לדודי ודודי לי הרעה בשושנים, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, that shepherds among the lilies." This is from the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible, and a popular Jewish paean to fidelity. Beckham has also been ridiculed in the press for looking like a "Hell's Angel biker" and a "football yob" due to his ever-expanding number of tattoos, their design and location.[77]

A chronology of Beckham's tattoos [78] includes:
 

  • April 1999 - Son Brooklyn's name on his back.
     
  • April 1999 - An angel on his back.
     
  • 2000 - Hindi "Victoria" design on his left arm.
     
  • April 2002 - Roman numeral VII on right forearm
     
  • May 2003 - Latin phrase "Perfectio In Spiritu", meaning "Spiritual Perfection", on his right arm
     
  • May 2003 - More Latin, "Ut Amem Et Foveam" or "So That I Love And Cherish", on his left arm.
     
  • 2003 - Romeo's name on his back.
     
  • 2003 - Classical art design on his right shoulder.
     
  • 2004 - Winged cross on his neck.
     
  • 2004 - Angel with motto "In The Face of Adversity" on right arm.
     
  • Mar 2005 - Cruz's name on his back.
     
  • June 2006 - Second angel and clouds added to right arm and shoulder.
Awards
PFA Young Player of the Year
1997
UEFA Club Football Awards
Best Midfielder

1998-99
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year
1998-99
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
2001
England football captain
2000-2006

References and Notes

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Updated 03/07/07

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