Soccer players who make it to the top level often enjoy worldwide recognition, but only a few of them are seen as something more than a football player. That is the case with David Beckham.
One of the first players to become a celebrity, the British icon has drawn media attention throughout his playing career and beyond. Here, we’ll take a look at his story.
David Robert Joseph Beckham, more often known as David Beckham, is a former football player born in Leytonstone, east London, England, on May 2, 1975. He began his playing career at Manchester United, later making a sensational move to Real Madrid before embarking on a shocking adventure in the United States to play for Major League Soccer franchise Los Angeles Galaxy. The Englishman also donned the uniforms of Serie A giants AC Milan and French side Paris Saint-Germain.
Married to singer Victoria Adams, who rose to stardom as ‘Posh Spice’ of the pop group The Spice Girls, Beckham has drawn media attention not only for his work on the soccer pitch but also for his lifestyle. The renowned couple have four children together: sons Brooklyn Joseph Peltz, Romeo James, Cruz, and daughter Harper Seven. The former midfielder also became a brand himself, earning millions from endorsements and other ventures. He is co-owner of MLS side Inter Miami.
Born in Leytonstone, east London, to Sandra Georgina West, a hair stylist, and David Edward Alan “Ted” Beckham, an appliance repairman, David Beckham is the middle child between two sisters. His life would immediately be attached to soccer, and curiously to the football team where he would later begin his career, as his family supported Manchester United.
Besides, Beckham was gifted with a natural talent for the game—and it didn’t take long for scouts to notice that. When he was only 11, he caught the eye of his boyhood club by winning the Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools National Skills competition. From then on, there was no turning back: Becks was destined to be a professional football player.
Shortly after completing his trial and leaving home to settle himself in the academy, Beckham quickly proved he was fit for the Manchester United program. After leading the youth team to a FA Youth Cup success in 1992 and a league title in 1994, Sir Alex Ferguson started to count on him for the first team. Beckham made his debut in September 1994 in a League Cup fixture against Port Vale, later scoring in his UEFA Champions League debut against Galatasaray.
Becks spent a short loan spell at Third Division team Preston North End, where he made quite an impression scoring twice in only five games, including a stunning corner kick goal. Back at the club for the 1995-96 season, Beckham had already won a spot in the starting lineup, winning his first Premier League title with his beloved club.
United would retain the trophy the following season, in which Beckham was named Young Player of the Year. What he didn’t know by then, is that more successes and international appearances with the English national team were in store for him.
Having established himself in the Red Devils’ first team, Beckham made his way to the national team and played in his first FIFA World Cup at 23. Though he played in all qualifying games of the 1998 World Cup in France, that tournament wouldn’t end as expected for the United star. In the round of 16 against Argentina, Beckham left his team down to ten men after 47 minutes for kicking an opponent. England eventually lost on penalties, and the media was harsh on Becks for months.
However, it wouldn’t take long for him to turn the page. Beckham had a perfect season with Manchester United after that World Cup, helping the Red Devils win the treble (Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and FA Cup titles). On top of that, he would leave behind that infamous episode vs. Argentina by embracing a pivotal role with England. On November 15, 2000 Beckham captained the Three Lions for the first time under interim boss Peter Taylor before Sven Goran-Eriksson made him permanent captain.
On October 6, 2001, England was trailing 2-1 to Greece after 93 minutes. The outlook was far from encouraging, as there was not much time left to avoid a World Cup playoff tie against Ukraine. That was when Beckham stood up and scored a last-gasp free-kick at Old Trafford to send England to the 2002 World Cup.
He won three more league titles with United before joining Real Madrid in a blockbuster deal, despite rumors of a Barcelona move. His stint with the Spanish giants was not as successful as expected, though, as he only won a La Liga and a Supercopa title during his time in Spain. Either way, it was still enough for him to play the 2006 World Cup, his third and last World Cup in his career. Following a quarter-final loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Becks stood down as captain.
A year later, he made an unexpected move to Los Angeles Galaxy, a game-changer for MLS. After two loan spells at AC Milan, and having also trained with Tottenham early in 2011, Beckham went on to win two MLS Cups with the Galaxy. His last club was PSG, whom he joined for the second half of the 2012-13 season.
Just like he did during his career—for instance, when he donated his salary during his five months at PSG to a local charity—Beckham continued to be involved in philanthropic works after hanging up the boots.
Additionally, having the right to a discounted MLS franchise as part of his deal to join LA Galaxy, Beckham founded expansion side Inter Miami CF, which he currently co-owns.
In addition to winning trophies with almost every team he played for (becoming the first English player to win league titles in four countries), Beckham has many other achievements.
One of the first players to become such a renowned celebrity, David Beckham has managed to succeed both on and off the field. He certainly left his mark everywhere he went in his career, and his name will forever be remembered in world soccer.
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