David Beckham to retire from football at end of season
David Beckham is to hang up his boots at the end of the season, his representative announced on Thursday.
Just a week after Alex Ferguson announced his decision to retire, the most famous of 'Fergie's Fledglings', David Beckham, revealed that he was to hang up his boots at the end of the 2012-13 season, aged 38.
Beckham, who has enjoyed a glittering playing career, bows out at the highest level, with a four-month stint at Paris Saint-Germain proving to be his swansong.
Fittingly, the former England captain managed to add one more winners' medal to his collection in that time, making nine appearances to help PSG win the French Ligue 1 title for the first time since 1994.
But when PSG signed Beckham in January, they did so more for the value he could bring off the field than on it - he is someone who has carefully nurtured his public image ever since his days as a fresh-faced youngster at Manchester United.
"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.
"I'm fortunate to have realised those dreams."
PSG’s final game is on Saturday.
Beckham's title triumph with PSG made him the first British player to have won league championships in four different countries, after previous successes in England, Spain and the United States.
He captained England between 2000 and 2006, played at three World Cups, and has played more times for his country than any other outfield player.
The footballer, who was part of Manchester United's FA Youth Cup-winning side of 1992, made his debut for the senior side in a League Cup tie in September that same year. The right winger netted 85 times in 394 appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Proud family man, fashion guru, friend of A-list celebrities and politicians -- even gay icon -- the 38-year-old midfielder is as much known for his activities off the pitch as his pinpoint passing, tireless running and deadly free-kicks on it.
Beckham has risen from a modest background in Leytonstone, east London, to become one of the most marketable figures in world sport, aided by a high-profile marriage to former Spice Girl, turned fashion designer, Victoria Adams.
As a talented youngster, he declined to sign with his local side Tottenham Hotspur and instead joined Ferguson's Manchester United, becoming the heart of a side that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.
He made his debut at 17 and truly stamped his arrival in the English top-flight with an audacious goal from the halfway line in a match against Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1996-7 season.
In eight years at Old Trafford, he collected six Premier League crowns and the 1999 Champions League, making him one of the most recognisable -- and bankable -- sportsmen in Britain.
Yet his time at the top was not without controversy: he became a hate figure for some at the 1998 World Cup when he was sent off for a petulant kick at Diego Simeone during England's last-16 defeat against Argentina in France.
His reputation was only restored with a breathtaking last minute free-kick in England's final World Cup qualifying match against Greece in 2001 and subsequent penalty winner against Argentina at the 2002 finals.
A well-publicised bust-up with Ferguson over his commitment to the game had by that time led to a 35-million-euro move to Real Madrid, where his increasingly global reputation saw an explosion in replica jersey sales, notably in Asia.
He was even the inspiration for the hit British film "Bend It Like Beckham", about a Punjabi-origin schoolgirl in west London who dreams of playing football like her idol, against her conservative parents' wishes.
Beckham dropped a bombshell in 2007 when he announced a shock multi-million dollar move to LA Galaxy.
In the United States, his popularity helped drive up interest and attendances at Major League Soccer, which the Galaxy won in 2011 and again last year.
During his time in the States, Beckham had two loan spells at AC Milan before a serious Achilles injury deprived him a chance for a last appearance at the World Cup in 2010, leaving his caps total on 115 -- a record for an outfield English player.
According to the Sunday Times' rich list, Beckham's estimated net worth in April 2012 was £190 million ($300 million, 220 million euros) yet even then, at an age when he could understandably retire, he was still being coveted by clubs the world over.
Beckham missed out on playing for the Great Britain team at the Olympics he helped bring to his home city last year but still played a starring role, driving a speedboat with the Olympic flame to the stadium before a global audience of millions.
Desperate to improve their own international image, PSG jumped at the chance to be associated with the Beckham brand, and the possibility of him extending his stay for another year was floated before he decided the time was right to call it a day.