Today marks another sad day in modern football as an iconic figure and footballing legend hangs up his boots and say goodbye to professional football. Adding to a list that includes Paul Scholes, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher as well as Sir Alex Ferguson parting with his role as manager of Manchester United, today David Beckham announced that he would no longer play the game professionally.
In a career that lasted 21 years, beginning at the mere age of 17, David played for many of Europe’s top clubs and had a spell in the United States too. He played for Manchester United, where he spent half his career, playing 265 games and scoring 62 goals. The ten years in Manchester were the pinnacle of his remarkable career and brought to the fore a world class individual. In 2003, Beckham completed a multi million pound move to Spanish giants Real Madrid where he played 116 times. After four years in the Spanish capital, Beckham crossed the Atlanic where he spent five extremely successful years at the MLS side, Los Angeles Galaxy where he played 98 games, scoring 18 times. Finally, Beckham had two loan spells at AC Milan after which he made the final move of his career to Paris Saint Germain where he famously decided to give all his wages from the club to a local children’s hospital. As well as his superb club career, Beckham played 115 games for England – many as Captain – and netted 17 times. His most famous goal has to be the free kick he scored for England versus Greece at Old Trafford in the last minute of the game to send England to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. What a goal it was. Beckham’s career was tremendously successful meriting him with global recognition, a stunning wife and fortune beyond many people’s wildest dreams.
Let’s not forget the other four men who have chosen to move on.
Jamie Carragher may not have been as globally recognised a player but his services to Liverpool Football Club will never be forgotten. A one club man, who poured his heart and soul into every minute of every game will walk away with the love and best wishes of the entire Anfield contingent.
Michael Owen is regarded as one of the best strikers in English history. After spending most of his career at Liverpool, Michael also spent years at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City. But it will be his years at Liverpool that will go down in history. A young Michael stepped onto the scene and hit the ground running, scoring 118 Liverpool goals. He also netted 40 times for England before announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Paul Scholes, yet another one club man. “Scholesy” began his Manchester United career in 1993 and with a one year retirement in the middle, has played 498 competitive games for the Red Devils. Labelled by many as the best midfielder of his generation, Scholes dominated midfields with his stunning passing and intricate movement. When France legend Zinedine Zidane was asked by a reporter, “How does it feel to be the best midfielder in the world?” the Frenchman replied, “I don’t know, ask Paul Scholes.” His efforts were realised by the entire globe, not just his club and his presence and charisma will be missed by all.
Finally, the greatest manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson. The 71 year old Manchester United manager will oversee his team for the last ever time on Sunday before handing over the reins of the Old Trafford side to current Everton boss, David Moyes. Ferguson’s career in Manchester lasted 26 and a half years and he leaves the game with the world at his feet. Sir Alex’s trophy cabinet contains a remarkable 13 League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 10 Community Shields, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 Club World Cup in his extravagant spell at the helm of arguably the greatest football club in the world. These stats alone epitomise his excellence and will never, at least in the foreseeable future, be matched by anyone.
The footballing world will be saying five goodbyes over the weekend and the departures of these greats will prove to be a huge dent in the football world. Nonetheless, the game has some wonderfully talented players coming through and football will move on.
Finally, I would like to extend my heartiest good wishes to former Aston Villa Captain, Stiliyan Petrov, who has retired from the game early after suffering from Leukaemia. He was a terrific servant for Celtic and Aston Villa and will also be missed sorely in the footballing world. Good luck to all these great men and I wish you all the best in your futures.