16 May 2013

David Beckham retires from professional football

David Beckham says he is “fortunate to have realised his dreams” as he bows out of professional football.

David Beckham, one of the world’s most famous footballers, will retire from professional football at the end of the season.

38-year-old Beckham, who recently won a league title with Paris Saint-Germain, said he felt it was the right time to end his dazzling professional career, which began at Manchester United and has also included stints at Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy.

“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. I’m fortunate to have realized those dreams,” Beckham said in a statement.

If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for my boyhood club Manchester United…I would have told you it was a fantasy. David Beckham

“I’m thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level.”

Beckham also holds the England record for making 115 appearances as an outfield player in the national team.

“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 honoured to represent England both on and off the pitch … I want to thank all my team-mates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from. I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed.”

In an interview with Sky Sports News, Beckham said that he wanted above all to be remembered as a “hard working footballer”. He added:

“People have obviously looked at certain other things throughout my career – sometime’s that’s overshadowed what I’ve done on the pitch … as much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does: at the end of the day, I’m a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world.”

Illustrious career

Beckham is the only English player to have won a League championship in four countries – completing that feat with Paris St Germain within the last week.

Beckham made his debut for Manchester United in 1992, winning six league titles and the Champions League before moving to Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy, plus loan spells at AC Milan. He won the Primera Division title in his final season in Spain and the US Major League Soccer championship twice.

He made his England debut in 1996 and was the first English player to score in three consecutive World Cup finals tournaments.

FA chairman David Bernstein paid tribute to the player who he said had always given 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 organisation.”

Olympic role

Downing Street described David Beckham as a “brilliant ambassador for this country, not least in all the work he did in helping us win London 2012”. The footballer was given a starring role in the Olympics opening ceremony, piloting a boat carrying the flame down the river Thames to the Olympic stadium.