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Who is David Beckham

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Who is David Beckham

David Robert Joseph Beckham, born 2 May 1975, is an English former professional footballer, the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami CF, and the co-owner of Salford City. He played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and the England national team, for which he held the appearance record for an outfield player until 2016. He is the first English player to win league titles in four different countries: England, Spain, France and the United States. He retired in May 2013 after a 20-year career, during which he won 19 major trophies.

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Early Life

Born in Leytonstone, London, Beckham is the second of three children born to hairdresser Sandra Georgina and kitchen fitter David Edward Alan “Ted” Beckham. He is their only son. Beckham’s love for football started at home, with his parents being fanatical Manchester United supporters. From an early age, Beckham showed promise as a future footballer, winning the coveted Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools National Skills competition at just 11 years old. There, he won the opportunity to train with Barcelona. He then went on to trial with local clubs Leyton Orient and Norwich City, before attending Tottenham Hotspur’s School of Excellence – the first club he ever officially played for. In 1998, Beckham joined the Brimsdown Rovers’ youth team, being named the Under-15 Player of the Year two years later. His talent caught the attention of his parents’ favourite team, and in 1991, he signed a Youth Training Scheme contract for Manchester United.


In 1992, Beckham helped the club towards the FA Youth Cup, after scoring the winning goal in Manchester United’s first-leg win of the final against Crystal Palace, and playing a full 90 minutes in the second leg. Beckham’s impressive performance landed him a spot on the first team, debuting in September that same year, before signing for the professional youth team in 1993. Beckham once again helped his team towards the FA Youth Cup final, receiving honours with the club’s reserve team when the squad won the league in 1994. That same year, Beckham made his first full appearance in the club’s first team. He later made his UEFA Champions League debut, scoring 1 of their goals in their 4-0 victory. Despite the victory, though, Manchester United finished 3rd out of 4 in their group, falling behind Barcelona.

Beckham then went on loan to Preston North End for a short stint in the 1994/95 season, to get some first team experience. He scored two goals in five appearances, before returning to Manchester United for his Premier League debut in 1995. However, the team was not in their best shape and missed out on their third successive Premier League title by a single point, before failing to secure the FA Cup. The club finished the season without securing a major trophy for the first time since 1989.

Despite this, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had confidence in the club’s young players. Beckham was part of a group of young talents – known as Fergie’s Fledglings – brought into the club by Ferguson in the 1990s. When experienced players left the club after the 1994/95 season, Ferguson decided to let youth team players replace them instead of buying stars from other clubs. His decision drew much criticism, especially after the club started the season with a defeat at Aston Villa.

However, the young talents quickly recovered from their early season defeat as Beckham established himself as the team’s right-side midfielder, pushing them to win the Premier League title and an FA Cup double.

The 1996/97 season proved to be Beckham’s breakthrough season, as he scored a spectacular goal against Wimbledon from the halfway line. The goal was voted 18th in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments poll by Channel 4 in 2002, and in 2016, a Sky Sports poll named it the best opening day goal in Premier League history. After such a success, Beckham became the team’s automatic first-choice player – a role that was well deserved as he helped them to retain the Premier League title, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers.

In the 1998/99 season, Beckham helped Manchester United clinch a treble after winning the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League – a unique accomplishment in English football. After being shown the red card during a match against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, there was speculation that Beckham would leave England. However, Beckham stayed at Manchester United, helping them to secure yet another Premier League title.

Beckham was key in United’s win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, with both of the match’s goals coming from corners taken by him. This, followed by a season of impressive performances, led to Beckham securing runner-up positions for the 1999 European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Despite his achievements, Beckham was still unpopular among some opposition fans and journalists. He was criticised after being sent off the pitch for a deliberate foul in Manchester United’s World Club Championship match against Necaxa, while it was also suggested that his wife was a bad influence on him and that the club should sell him. However, his manager publicly supported him as he stayed on at United.

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However, by the early 2000s, the relationship between Ferguson and Beckham had begun to deteriorate as Beckham’s fame and other commitments appeared to take his attention away from football. When Beckham took time away from training in order to look after his son Brooklyn, who had gastroenteritis, Ferguson was furious to see his wife, Victoria Beckham, at a London Fashion Week event on the same night. Ferguson claimed that Victoria should have stayed home to look after Brooklyn, and punished Beckham by fining him the maximum amount that was permitted at the time (two weeks wages – £50,000) and dropping him for a crucial match against United’s rivals Leeds United. Despite this, Beckham still had an impressive season with the club, helping them to win the Premier League by a record margin.

He continued to be a star player even while juggling his celebrity status, playing a key role in securing United’s third successive league title in 2000/01 – the fourth time that any club had achieved three league titles in a row. He scored nine Premier League goals, and had 12 assists – the most in the league. In 2002, Beckham was injured during a Champions League match against Deportivo de La Coruña, breaking a bone in his left foot. The injury was caused by Argentine player Aldo Duscher, and with English and Argentina set to play against each other in that year’s World Cup, there was much speculation in the British media that the injury was caused deliberately. The injury kept Beckham off the pitch for the rest of the season, causing the team to lose the Premier League title to Arsenal.

In May of 2002, Beckham signed a three-year contract which made him the highest paid player in the world at the time. However, his relationship with Ferguson only deteriorated further. After being injured in the 2002/03 season, Beckham’s position on the pitch was taken by Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Then, following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal in 2003, the team’s furious manager threw a boot in the changing room, causing Beckham to need stitches above his eye. It was no surprise then, when in 2003, Beckham left Manchester United in favour of the reigning Spanish champions Real Madrid. Beckham hit the ground running, winning the Spanish Super Cup and scoring 5 times in his first 16 matches – including a goal less than 3 minutes into his La Liga debut.

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Real Madrid were runners-up in the Copa del Rey, but were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage and finished the league season in fourth place. In the 2006/07 season, initially being out of favour with new head coach Fabio Capello, Beckham started only a few games at the beginning of the season. It was then announced that Beckham had signed a five-year deal to play for the LA Galaxy starting from July of 2007. Things seemed tense between the player and president Ramón Calderón, who stated that Beckham is “going to Hollywood to be half a film star”, adding “our technical staff were right not to extend his contract, which has been proved by the fact that no other technical staff in the world wanted him except Los Angeles”.

Despite tensions, Beckham continued to offer world-class performances, as he clinched the La Liga title from Barcelona and worked his way back into manager Capello’s good books. However, it was too late for the club to renege on their decision to drop the player, and their attempts to reacquire the player were quickly shot down.

In July of 2007, although he was still nursing an injured left ankle, Beckham made his Galaxy debut as part of the World Series of Soccer, in a losing game against Chelsea. Owing to his celebrity status, the crowd was at fully capacity and included Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eva Longoria among others. The match was broadcast live on ESPN’s live main network, but cameras remained firmly focused on Beckham, despite him spending much of the game on the bench. The match’s added time saw Beckham thrown into the air after a tackle gone wrong. He crumpled hard to the ground, but miraculously, his existing injury was not aggravated much and his recovery was set back by only a week. He then missed the next four LA Galaxy matched.

Two weeks after his debut match against Chelsea, Beckham made his league debut against D.C. United – with Galaxy losing once again. Fearing further aggravating his ankle injury, Beckham decided to sit out for the next match. He returned to the pitch in the following week, in the SuperLiga semi-final against D.C. United, securing a 2-0 victory and a place in the North American SuperLiga final against Pachuca. During the anticipated final, however, he injured his right knee and was forced to take leave of the pitch for another 6 weeks, and the team were eliminated from playoff contention in October of 2007.

Beckham trained with Arsenal for three weeks from January of 2008, before his pre-season training with Galaxy. His success in the England national team under Fabio Capello’s management led to speculation that he might return to Europe for the World Cup qualifying matches in 2009. This was confirmed in October 2008, when Milan announced that Beckham would be joining them on loan from January 2009.

Beckham made his competitive debut for the rossoneri in Serie A, drawing 2-2. His home debut was played a week later, against Fiorentina, with Milan winning 1-0. In his third appearance for the club, he scored his first goal in Serie A for Milan in a 4-1 victory over Bologna. Despite expectations that Beckham would return to LA in March, Beckham announced in February that he was seeking a permanent transfer to Milan. However, Milan failed to match Galaxy’s valuation of the prized player, so he returned to LA.

However, his disloyalty and failure to attend the first half of the season was met with hostility from LA fans, who held up signs saying “Go home fraud”, and “Part-time player”. Beckham proved to be an asset to the team still, bringing them from third up to first place in the Western Conference and he was crucial in their 2-0 victory over Houston Dynamo in the finals.

After the end of the 2009 MLS season, Beckham returned to Milan for a second loan period beginning in January 2010. He returned strong, playing 75 minutes of a 5-2 victory over Genoa. However, his strong entrance did not carry through for the entirety of his loan: Manchester United enjoyed a 3-2 victory against Milan in February 2010, and once again dominated in March, with a 4-0 victory. To make matters worse, when Milan played against Chievo, Beckham suffered a torn left Achilles tendon and was forced to miss the World Cup as well as the MLS season as he was taken out of action for the next 5 months.

In September 2010, Beckham returned to Galaxy after recovering from his latest injury, winning 3-1 over Columbus Crew. His 3rd stint with Galaxy proved successful as he secured another victory, this time over Chivas USA with a score of 2-1. This was followed by a third win, with a score of 2-1 over FC Dallas. The team therefore secured their second successive Western Conference title and first MLS Supporters’ Shield since 2002. He carried this form through to the 2011 MLS season, securing victories over Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire and finishing second in the league in assists. It was no surprise then, when he joined an elite group of players to have won league titles in three countries.

When his contract expired in December 2011, 36 year old Beckham stated he did not intend to retire. Instead, he signed a new two-year contract to remain in Los Angeles, where he helped Galaxy to a 4th place finish in the MLS Western Conference 2012 regular season. He then pushed his team to victories over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the San Jose Earthquakes, and Seattle Sounders FC on their way to the MLS Cup final, where they defeated the Houston Dynamo 3–1 to retain the cup.

Despite having another year remaining on his contract, Beckham transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013. He remained there for a brief 5 month stint, before announcing his retirement from professional football in May 2013.

Beckham’s Stats

Manchester United

Appearances: 387 / Goals: 85 / Assists: 98


  • Intercontinental Cup winner

  • Champions League winner

  • 6x English Champion

  • 2x English FA Cup winner

  • 4x English Super Cup winner

Real Madrid

Appearances: 159 / Goals: 20 / Assists: 51


  • Spanish Champion

  • Spanish Super Cup winner

Los Angeles Galaxy

Appearances: 124 / Goals: 20 / Assists: 42


  • 2x Supporters Shield Winner

  • MLS Cup Champion

AC Milan

Appearances: 33 / Goals: 2 / Assists: 9

Paris Saint-Germain

Appearances: 14 / Goals: - / Assists: 2


  • French Champion

Individual Honours

  • Young Player of the Year

Famous Teammates

Roy Keane

Speaking of Keane, Beckham states: “You know I've never played with a player that has been so driven and talented and the will to win, you know there is no one that I've played with that is like Roy. He's the best captain I've ever played with. The best midfielder I've ever played with,”

Gary Neville

Speaking of how he felt after Beckham’s departure from Manchester United, Neville said: “It didn’t cause any friction in our friendship. Not at all. I never felt that at all. I thought that when he left it was probably for the best because the relationship [between Beckham and Ferguson] was getting a bit fraught. Just generally you could see it was coming to an end. To this day, my view has been that it was good for both parties. But at the time I was devastated because it felt like the gang were breaking up.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Beckham speaks highly of Solskjaer, who now manages Manchester United: "I think he's doing a good job. The fact that he's stepped in and stepped up, and that he continues to be positive about players, he's got that from the boss [Ferguson]. He would never criticise a player from his club and Ole has been exactly the same. He's still learning but he will protect his players and protect Manchester United. All of the fans will be behind him because he's a great person and because of what he's done for Manchester United over the years."

Where Is He Now?

In 2019, Beckham bought 10% of the shares for Salford City Football Club: a professional football club in Salford, England that competes in League Two. He also owns the MLS team Inter Miami.

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