Thursday, May 16, 2013
David Beckham, One of Football's Greats
Two words come to mind. Grace. Class. They describe David Beckham, who won league titles with four clubs in four countries in a long career that included a record 115 appearances for England. The soccer superstar who also became a fashion icon and a global celebrity announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the season. At 38, Beckham is already the old man of international football. His unique career dims almost any other, with the exception of Pele. And for both Beckham and Pele, it was not only their extraordinary talent but their personal qualities that gave them enduring worldwide recognition. David Beckham is ending a career in which he transcended the sport with fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity. But it was Beck's curling free kicks and pinpoint crosses that were his signature as a player. Beckham's special kick was immortalized in the 2002 movie "Bend it Like Beckham," the story of a British teenage girl of south Asian heritage struggling with family and cultural expectations to play the sport she loves. Beckham's announcement inevitably led to a flood of tweets saying, "End it Like Beckham." He has two more matches left at Paris St. Germain, where he has been giving his salary to a children's charity. When a reporter asked when he had decided to retire, Beckham laughed and answered: "Probably when (Lionel) Messi was running past me in that home game," referring to PSG's Champions League match against Barcelona last month. Beckham started his career with Manchester United, as an 11-year-old under the care of United coach Alex Ferguson. Beckham also played for Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning national titles with all those clubs. He played on loan with AC Milan and made 115 appearance for his country, a record in England for someone other than a goalkeeper. Beckham, who captained the England side, 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 honored to represent England both on and off the pitch." FIFA President Sepp Blatter described the midfielder as "one of the most iconic figures in global football....It's the end of a chapter of an loving child who achieved his dreams, and unquestionably inspired millions of boys and girls to try and do the same." While talking recently about his celebrity overshadowing his football prowess, Beckham said it hurts to hear it. "I am a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world and 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." But he often says that he owes everything to Victoria and the kids for the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period. Commenting on his decision to retire, his wife Victoria said, "...this was not an easy decision to make, and to me and the children he will always be an amazing sportsman and a devoted husband and father." Beckham has already started planning for his post-playing career, becoming an ambassador for Chinese soccer. He says he looks forward to the future helping the game he loves. "I'm fortunate to have been given many opportunities throughout my career and now I feel it's my time to give back." As any of Beck's fans will tell you, his future is sure to include lots of fundraising and personal time on the pitch with the thousands of youngsters he is helping realize their own dream of playing the Beautiful Game. ~~~~~ Dear readers, life is beautiful, too, and people like David Beckham remind us just how beautiful it can be when we do our best and reach out with love.