David Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity.
LONDON — David Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity.
The 38-year-old former England captain, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday he will quit after the season.
“It’s a good way to go out,” Beckham said in Paris. “It’s every athlete’s dream, every footballer’s dream, to go out on the top — on top form or winning a trophy … leaving as a champion.”
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Beckham, whose curling free kicks and pinpoint crosses became his signature as a player, has two more matches left at PSG — against Brest on Saturday and at Lorient on May 26. He has been giving his salary to a children’s charity.
Asked what led to his decision, Beckham replied with a laugh: “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 and also played for Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning 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.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter described the midfielder as “one of the most iconic figures in global football.”
Beckham’s fame went beyond the field, with his haircuts and clothing scrutinized as often as his play, earning him a string of lucrative sponsorship deals.
“Sometimes that has overshadowed what I have done on the pitch or what I have achieved on the pitch,” Beckham said in a television interview. “And as much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does.
“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.”
Beckham was immortalized with the 2002 movie “Bend it Like Beckham,” which told the story of a British teenage girl of south Asian heritage struggling with family pressures and cultural expectations to play the sport she loves. Beckham’s retirement led to a flood of tweets dubbing the day, “End it Like Beckham.”
“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 one hundred times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy,” Beckham said. “I’m fortunate to have realized those dreams.”
It was his appearances with England’s national team that raised his profile internationally.
“To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country,” Beckham 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.”
Beckham is now living in London with wife Victoria, a former “Spice Girls” singer, and their four children.
“I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done today without my family. I’m grateful for my parents’ sacrifice, which made me realize 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.”
Victoria Beckham said the couple is “excited about the next chapter in our lives.”
With United between 1992 and 2003, Beckham won six Premier League titles, the Champions League, two FA Cups and the Intercontinental Cup.
Beckham left Manchester United in 2003. Manager Alex Ferguson announced his retirement last week.
Beckham spent four years in Madrid — winning the 2007 Spanish title before making the surprise move to Major League Soccer, where he won the title twice.
There were highs and lows in Beckham’s international career. He was blamed for England’s elimination from the 1998 World Cup for his red card against Argentina, but scored the winning goal against the same team at the World Cup four years later.
England dropped Beckham in 2006 in an effort to renew the team with younger players after a quarterfinal exit at that year’s World Cup.
England coach Steve McClaren recalled him the following year after a poor run of form, and he returned for the remainder of England’s unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2008 European Championship.
His last England appearance came against Belarus in October 2009, and he missed the 2010 World Cup because of an Achilles tendon injury.