Former England captain David Beckham has announced that he is to retire from professional football. The 38-year-old – who has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy – is turning down the offer of an extended one-year deal at his current club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). After winning the French title with the club, Beckham said he wanted to finish his career on a high.
The midfielder spoke exclusively to his former Manchester United teammate and long-time friend Gary Neville for Sky Sports News about his decision. He said:
Over the years when I’ve seen players retire, when you ask them they said ‘you’ll know when you’re ready…I think I know when I’m ready. It’s difficult because I still think I can play at the top level…but I’ve always said to myself I want to go out on top.
Sometimes people have looked at certain other things that have gone on throughout my career, sometimes that’s overshadowed what I’ve done on the pitch. As much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does. I’m a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, played with some of the best players in the world, played under some of the biggest and best managers and achieved almost everything in football.”
He admitted that he had found it difficult when his life as a global celebrity occasionally took the focus away from his football career. Asked when he decided the time was right to call time on his career, he joked: “Probably when Messi was running past me in that home game!”
He has just two more matches left at PSG, where his salary has been going to a children’s charity. The retirement brings to an end a glittering career. As well as winning league titles in Spain, Italy and England, he also holds the record for making 115 international appearances as an outfield player.
There were highs and lows in Beckham’s international career. He was blamed for England’s elimination from the 1998 World Cup for a red card against Argentina, but scored the winning goal against the same team in Japan four years later. He has four children, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper, with his wife, Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham.
Tributes from friends and colleagues in the game, but also from celebrities and even the Prime Minister serve as a reminder of how Beckham’s fame spread beyond the football world.
David Cameron said he had enjoyed a “fantastic career as an outstanding footballer and an outstanding ambassador”.
Gary Lineker tweeted: “David Beckham has retired. A wonderful player, global superstar and a magnificent ambassador for England and football.”
I wish him well in the future whatever he chooses to do and I personally hope that will be in football. David is a man of many talents and a lot of people now will be wanting him for different jobs and roles, some of which could take him away from us in football. But I’m rather hoping we’ll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player.
– England manager Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports News
Beckham has taken up an increasing number of high profile roles off the pitch. He is currently an ambassador for Chinese football, and last month partnered with Sky to champion the benefits of youth sport.