David Beckham of Paris Saint-Germain during a French L1 football match in March/ Philippe Desmazes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
David Beckham is to retire from football at the end of this season after an illustrious 20-year career.
The former England captain made 115 appearances for his country and 394 for Manchester United, winning six Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Beckham, 38, signed a five-month deal at Paris St-Germain in January.
“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,” he said.
PSG have two more games before the end of the season, at home against Brest tomorrow and away to Lorient on 26 May.
Beckham, who donates his salary with the newly crowned French champions to charity, has made 13 appearances since moving to Paris.
The Leytonstone-born midfielder has played for United, Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and PSG, lifting 19 trophies including 10 league titles. He is the only English player to win championships in four countries.
“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 100 times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have realised those dreams.”
Beckham joined United as a trainee in 1991, making his first-team debut the following year and signing his first professional contract in 1993.
He became one of the world’s most high-profile sportsmen during his time at Old Trafford – and a global celebrity following his marriage to Victoria Adams of pop group the Spice Girls in 1999.
Then came a move to Real Madrid in 2003 with whom Beckham clinched La Liga in 2007 before switching to the United States with LA Galaxy.
He was loaned to AC Milan during the MLS off-season in 2009 and 2010, and his stay in the US ended when he signed for PSG.
Beckham made his England debut against Moldova in 1996 and captained the side from 2000 to 2006, making his 115th and final England appearance in a 3-0 win over Belarus in 2009.
“To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country. 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,” he said.
Beckham was the first English player to score at three consecutive World Cup finals and has the joint-second most goal assists in European Championship finals history.
He played a significant role in the successful bid to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to London and in March of this year became the first sportsman from outside of China to be invited to become the ambassador for the sport in the country.
“Nothing will ever completely replace playing the game I love,” added Beckham. “However, I feel like I’m starting a new adventure and I’m genuinely excited about what lies ahead. I’m fortunate to have been given many opportunities throughout my career and now I feel it’s my time to give back.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: “David Beckham has been an outstanding footballer throughout his career. Not only that – he has been a brilliant ambassador for this country, not least if we remember all the work he did in helping us win London 2012.”
England manager, Roy Hodgson added: “He’s had a glittering career, iconic status, and I wish him well in the future.”
Beckham concluded his statement by thanking his family. “I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done today without my family. I’m grateful for my parents’ sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams,” he said.
“I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period.”
Sven-Goran Eriksson says David Beckham will be remembered as the “world’s biggest sports personality” after the player announced his retirement yesterday.
Beckham was Eriksson’s captain throughout his tenure as England manager from 2001 to 2006.
The Swede said: “He’s a fantastic footballer, fantastic man and probably the world’s biggest sports personality. “I don’t think there is any other football player more popular than him. He was a very, very good captain.”
Eriksson, who is now technical director of Al Nasr in Dubai, added: “I remember all the matches with England and all the travelling – airports, hotels – it was all about Beckham, all the time.”
The 65-year-old said his abiding memory of Beckham’s England career was the stoppage-time free-kick he scored against Greece in 2001 to ensure qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
“David had missed many free-kicks during that game, but was mentally very strong to take it when it was almost overtime, and he scored,” he said.
“His biggest quality was that he was extremely professional in everything he was doing – and his right foot was not bad.
“In some way I suppose he will stay in football, I’m quite sure about that, as an ambassador or a coach. Anyway, he will be linked to football, I’m absolutely sure about that. I’m not sure he wants to be a manager.”
Former England players have also paid tribute to Beckham.
Gary Lineker described Beckham as a great role model, tweeting that he is a “wonderful player, global superstar and a magnificent ambassador for England and football”.
Gary Neville, who played alongside Beckham at Manchester United and England, added: “He has probably been the most influential player out of England in transforming football. The impact he has had is enormous.”
Another ex-England team-mate, Darius Vassell, added: “He’s never really strayed from the football side of things and some of the younger players can aspire to be like him. He’s a great ambassador for the sport.
Lee Sharpe, who played alongside Beckham at United early in his career, said his achievements in football “have been remarkable”, adding that he will “achieve a lot” in whatever he goes on to do in his career.
Beckham did not play for England under current manager Roy Hodgson, who has been manager of the national side since May last year. But the former West Bromwich Albion boss hopes Beckham will remain in football in some capacity.
“David is a man with many talents and a lot of people will now be offering him different jobs, but I’m rather hoping we will be able to keep him in football,” said Hodgson.
“I congratulate him on a glittering career and wish him well in the future, whatever he chooses to do.”
Football Association chairman, David Bernstein called Beckham a “great of the game”, adding: “David always played with the greatest passion and became an iconic figure in our national game. I am sorry to see him go but wish him and his family very well in his retirement.”
FIFA president, Sepp Blatter described Beckham as an “inspiration to millions”, tweeting: “David grew up as a football-loving child and achieved his dreams, and unquestionably inspired millions of boys and girls to try and do the same.”