Football: Beckhams highs and lows
David Beckham brought the curtain down on his glittering career on Thursday as the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star announced he will retire at the end of the season. Here we look at some of the highs and lows from his playing days:
United debut launches a legend
- As a member of the much-vaunted United youth team of the early 1990s, Beckham was always destined for stardom and he took his first baby steps into the spotlight when he made his first-team debut in a League Cup tie against in September 1992.
United manager Alex Ferguson was suitably impressed and within months he had helped win the FA Youth Cup and signed his first professional contract.
Nou Camp fairytale seals epic treble
- Despite being out-played and trailing 1-0 for most of the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, it was United who left the Nou Camp with the silverware and Beckham played his part.
After his stoppage-time corner led to Teddy Sheringham's equaliser, he lofted over another corner seconds later and this time Sheringham flicked on for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to poke in the goal that won United an unprecedented treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
England captaincy adds to reputation
- Already established as a key figure in the England team, Beckham's credentials as the country's most famous footballer were given a significant boost in November 2000 when he was given the national team captaincy.
England caretaker manager Peter Taylor handed Beckham the armband for a friendly against Italy and Sven Goran Eriksson then installed him as permanent skipper when he took over a few months later. He would eventually captain England 58 times.
England longevity secures record cap
- As a self-confessed proud patriot, few moments in Beckham's career could match the landmark he reached in a World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in March 2009.
After winning his 100th cap in March 2008, Beckham set his sights on the record for most appearances by an England outfield player and he reached it in a 4-0 win at Wembley, passing Bobby Moore's previous high of 108 caps.
Parisian triumph provides fitting finale
- After five years in the football backwater of Los Angeles, Beckham was keen to bow out on a grander stage and he engineered a move to French giants Paris Saint Germain which provided the perfect ending in May 2013.
A 1-0 victory over Lyon gave PSG their first French league crown since 1994 and made Beckham the first Englishman to win league titles in four different countries. Just days later he announced his retirement.
Argentina red card shame sparks witch-hunt
- England's 1998 World Cup last 16 clash with old rivals Argentina was delicately poised at 2-2 two minutes into the second half when Beckham, lying face down on the turf, was sent off for aiming a petulant kick at Diego Simeone.
England eventually went out on penalties and Beckham became public enemy number one for several months after his return home, with an effigy of the star with his head in a noose strung up outside an east London pub.
Fergie gives Becks the boot
- When Beckham drove toward United's training ground in February 2003, his unusual appearance lifted the lid on an explosive dressing room rift with Alex Ferguson.
Two plasters crossed into a bandage above Beckham's left eye were the proof of a clash with Ferguson following an FA Cup defeat against Arsenal which ended with the United manager kicking a stray boot in anger at the midfielder, who found himself sold to Real Madrid just months later.
Tears for souvenirs as captain quits
- Beckham showed his sensitive side as he broke down in tears while announcing he was quitting as England captain.
Just 24 hours after England's penalty shoot-out defeat against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals, an emotional Beckham revealed he wanted to end his six-year reign as skipper to coincide with Sven Goran Eriksson's departure as national team coach.
Frozen out by ruthless Capello
- But for a falling-out with Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello, Beckham could have spent several more seasons playing at the highest level in Europe before his transfer to LA Galaxy in 2007.
Disenchanted with life under Capello, Beckham signed a pre-contract agreement with the Galaxy, prompting a spell in the reserves as Capello flexed his muscles. The midfielder worked his way back into the team and helped Madrid win the Spanish title but it was too late to pull out of the Galaxy move.
World Cup swansong ruined by injury
- Beckham's dreams of playing in a fourth World Cup were dashed after he tore his left Achilles tendon in AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo in March 2010.
Ironically his move to Italian giants Milan had been motivated by his desire to prove to Capello that he could still cut it at the highest level after joining LA Galaxy.
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