May 16, 2013, 11:50 AM EDT
Here we take a look back at the roller coaster ride David Beckham took us on throughout his glittering career with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and England.
There have been plenty of highs and lows along the way, with glorious goals, silly red cards, confrontations with fans and numerous trophies all encapsulated in his mercurial career.
Scoring from the halfway line against Wimbledon
In his first full season with Manchester United, Beckham announced his arrival on the scene with a tremendous strike from inside his own half. Of course, spectacular goals were to become a benchmark of his career, but this was the first glorious strike that we all saw. On the first day of the 1996 Premier League season, Beckham picked up the ball just inside his own half and saw goalkeeper Neil Sullivan off his line. Audaciously, Beckham sent a long distance lob over Sullivan and into the net.
Beckham sent off against Argentina in 1998 World Cup
David Beckham became public enemy number one in England after he was sent off for kicking out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone in the second half. The game was locked at 2-2, with the arch-rivals clashing all over the pitch. Beckham was dragged to the ground by Simeone but then inexcusably kicked out and was shown a straight red. England went on to lose 4-3 on penalties with the British media blaming Beckham for the Three Lions’ exit.
Beckham sends England to World Cup 2002
Beckham went from zero to hero, as his last-minute free kick against Greece sealed England’s qualification to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. With the Three Lions trailing 2-1 in the 93rd minute, Beckham stepped up to curl home a trademark free kick into the top corner and send the nation wild. His place as the national hero was restored.
Fall out with Fergie
Beckham’s time at his boyhood club Manchester United was all but over after a bizarre incident with Sir Alex Ferguson in a dressing room bust-up. After an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, Ferguson kicked a soccer cleat across the room and it struck Beckham on the head, giving him a wound that required stitches. Five months later, Beckham left Old Trafford for good. He signed for Real Madrid.
Success…in the end, at Real Madrid
Beckham joined Real Madrid for £25million on July 1, 2003. He chose to wear the number 23 shirt, after his love for Michael Jordan. The Londoner had an up and down time in the Spanish capital but finished his career there on a high, after winning the La Liga title in his final game with Madrid. He spent four years in the Spanish capital and was determined to leave on a high note.
Move to MLS and the LA Galaxy
Beckham’s relationship with Madrid was going downhill rapidly and that continued when it was announced before the end of his final season there, that a move to the LA Galaxy had already been agreed. Beckham signed for LA for $6.5 million a year, but despite this the Galaxy actually earned more than their outlay with the merchandise and other spin offs that came from ‘brand Beckham.’ His first few years in LA proved to be a let down with his own fans confronting Beckham about his performances and why he extended his loan deal to AC Milan. Plenty of other incidents also marred his first years in MLS.
100th cap for England
In 2008 David Beckham joined an elite-group of English soccer players by winning his 100th cap for the national team. He went on to make 115 appearances for England making him the second-highest capped player in English history behind goalkeeper Peter Shilton. He is the most capped outfield player in English history.
Goodbye LA, hello Paris
Beckham signed off his career in Major League Soccer by winning two-straight MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy. His storybook ending came at home against the Houston Dynamo, as LA won 3-1 in December 2012 to finish his time in MLS on a high. After much speculation and deliberation, Beckham decided to join Paris Saint-Germain for the remainder of the Ligue 1 season. He won the French League title with two games to go, becoming the only Englishman in history to win league titles in four different countries.
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