Who Is David Beckham?
A phenom almost from the moment he could first kick a soccer ball, David Beckham began playing for Manchester United, England's legendary soccer team, at age 18, and was a starter by age 20. In 2007, he signed a five-year, $250 million contract with the L.A. Galaxy. In May 2013, he announced plans to retire.
Born on May 2, 1975, in Leytonstone, London, England, to parents Ted Beckham, an appliance repairman, and his wife Sandra, a hair stylist, Beckham was the family's only son. A middle child between two sisters, Beckham grew up with parents and siblings who were committed fans of Manchester United, England's legendary soccer franchise.
At an early age, Beckham showed his own promise as a footballer, winning the coveted Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools National Skills competition at 11 years old. His talent soon caught the notice of Manchester United team officials, who asked him to try out for the club's youth league. By the age of 16, Beckham had left home and was playing for United's training division. Two years later he made the club, and by 1995, he was a full-time starter.
World-Wide Star for Manchester United
Beckham wasted little time in making a splash on the English soccer landscape. The talented goal scorer was named the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year in 1997. A year later, he was one of the leading faces of England's World Cup team. In 1998, Beckham, who'd already signed a deal with Adidas, netted $13 million in endorsement deals.
In 1999, he led Manchester United to the Premier League title, the FA Cup championship and the Champions League title. Thanks to a last-minute free kick against Greece in 2001, England qualified for the 2002 World Cup. That same year, Beckham signed a three-year $22 million contract to remain with Manchester United.
But Beckham's time with United proved to be shorter than anyone thought. In 2003, he was acquired by Real Madrid in a stunner of a deal that brought to light Beckham's growing rift with Manchester's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Spanish soccer fans were thrilled to have their archrival join their team. Americans, meanwhile, were just getting to know him with the release of the movie, Bend It Like Beckham (2002), a movie that tells the story of a young girl who bucks her family's traditional ways and falls in love with English soccer.
Moving to the L.A. Galaxy
America's fascination with Beckham and his decade of dominance culminated in 2007 when the soccer great moved across the Atlantic to sign a reported five-year, $250 million deal with the L.A. Galaxy. The relocation was as much about giving Victoria Beckham's career a boost (she helped drive the decision to move to the States) as it was to give America's Major League Soccer a shot in the arm. Within 48 hours of the signing, the Galaxy sold more than 5,000 season tickets.
Beckham's career after moving to the United States, however, was been a rocky one. He was beset by injuries, spraining a knee ligament his first season in L.A., and later missed out on a chance to play in the 2010 World Cup because of an Achilles tendon injury.
In 2012, Beckham furthered his success by venturing into a new commercial endeavor, starting an underwear line for the company H&M. As part of Beckham's marketing campaign with H&M, six 10-foot statues of the soccer star in his underwear were installed in New York City; others were installed in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On May 16, 2013 — just days after winning a title with French club Paris Saint-Germain — the 38-year-old Beckham announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2013 season, ending his 21-year soccer career.
"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," Beckham said in a statement. "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... 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. I'm fortunate to have realized those dreams."
By 2013, Beckham had become credited as England's wealthiest sportsman, reportedly earning more than $46 million annually. The following year Beckham announced plans — along with fellow investors — to expand the Major League Soccer franchise with a new team in Miami.
Beckham has been involved in numerous charity work over the years, most notably serving as a UNICEF UK ambassador in the arena of children and sports development.
Wife and Kids
In 1997, Beckham met Victoria Adams, also known as "Posh Spice" of the Spice Girls. The two quickly fell in love, and on March 4, 1999, they had their first child, a son they named Brooklyn Joseph. Two months later, Beckham and Victoria tied the knot at a lavish $800,000 wedding at a castle outside of Dublin, Ireland.
The couple went on to have three more children: sons Romeo and Cruz and daughter Harper.
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