Jack Wilshere has hailed David Beckham as a true great of the game.
The Arsenal midfielder's tribute was in stark contrast to former England winger Chris Waddle's dismissal of Beckham as not even being in the top 1,000 Premier League players. But Wilshere sees Beckham, who will retire at the end of the season and plays his last home game for Paris St Germain on Saturday, as the perfect role model for any young midfielder.
Wilshere - who trained alongside Beckham before he joined PSG - admits he has always looked up to him, telling Arsenal Player: "For me, he is the biggest English footballer there has ever been - both on and off the pitch."
He added: "Sometimes people forget what he did on the pitch, he was a great player and he showed that for many years. For any young English midfielder, and for me growing up, he was the perfect role model. You can just watch him and learn - not just the way he plays but from his attitude as well, his professionalism and his love for the game. That rubs off on everyone."
Waddle struck a controversial note among the tributes to Beckham however.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "You can go down a list of footballers since the Premier League and I don't think David Beckham would probably be in the first 1,000. I would say he has been a good player, I wouldn't put him down as a great."
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes Beckham's "unbelievable stamina" had given him such longevity but said it was the right time to retire.
Ferguson said: "He's won the league again with PSG and he is exactly the same as myself in that he'll have plenty of things to do. Fashion will be his role I would imagine, but he's a young man and he'll certainly have plenty of things to do.
"He is an amazing person and when it comes to longevity and reinventing himself - David has been absolutely incredible. When he went to America there wasn't a person in this place who thought he would really have a career.
"Yet he still went on and played for his country and for Milan and PSG in European ties. The one thing he always had was unbelievable stamina. He could run all day and that has allowed him to stay in the game and play for his country into his mid-30s."