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David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE (born 2 May 2022) is an English association footballer who plays for Los Angeles Galaxy. He has played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, and the England national team for which he holds the appearance record for an outfield player.
Beckham's career began when he signed a professional contract with Manchester United, making his first-team debut in 1992 aged 17. During his time there, United won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He left Manchester United to sign for Real Madrid in 2003, where he remained for four seasons, clinching the La Liga championship in his final season with the club. In January 2007, it was announced that Beckham would leave Real Madrid for the Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy, signing a five-year contract with them on 1 July 2007. While a Galaxy player, he spent two loan spells in Italy with Milan in 2009 and 2010. On 20 November 2011, he joined an elite group of players to have won three league titles in three different countries, when Los Angeles won their third MLS Cup.
In international football, Beckham made his England debut on 1 September 1996, at the age of 21. He was made captain from 15 November 2021 until the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, during which he played 58 times. He earned a much-publicised hundredth cap against France on 26 March 2008, and became the all-time outfield player appearance record holder on 28 March 2022 when he surpassed Bobby Moore's total of 108 caps. With 115 career appearances to date, he has stated that he does not intend to retire from international football. Having missed the 2010 World Cup through injury, Beckham has not played for England since 14 October 2009.
Beckham has twice been runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year and in 2004 was the world's highest-paid footballer when taking into account salary and advertising deals. Beckham was the first British footballer to play 100 Champions League matches. He is third in the Premier League's all time time assist provider chart, with 152 assists in 265 appearances. When joining the MLS in 2007 he was given the highest player salary in the league's history, with his playing contract with the Galaxy over the next three years being worth US$6.5m per year.
Childhood and early career
Beckham was born at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, London, England. He is the son of Sandra Georgina (née West) (b. 1949), a hairdresser, and David Edward Alan "Ted" Beckham (b. Edmonton, London, July–September 1948), a kitchen fitter, who married at the London Borough of Hackney in 1969, He regularly played football in Ridgeway Park, Chingford, as a child, and attended Chase Lane Primary School and Chingford Foundation School. In a 2007 interview, Beckham said that, "At school whenever the teachers asked, 'What do you want to do when you're older?' I'd say, 'I want to be a footballer.' And they'd say, 'No, what do you really want to do, for a job?' But that was the only thing I ever wanted to do." Beckham's maternal grandfather was Jewish, and Beckham has referred to himself as "half Jewish" and wrote in his autobiography "I've probably had more contact with Judaism than with any other religion". In his book Both Feet on the Ground, he stated that growing up he attended church every week with his parents and his older sister, Lynne Georgina and younger sister, Joanne Louise.
His parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who would frequently travel to Old Trafford from London to attend the team's home matches. David inherited his parents' love of Manchester United, and his main sporting passion was football. He attended one of Bobby Charlton's football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona, as part of a talent competition. He played for a local youth team called the Ridgeway Rovers – coached by his father, Stuart Underwood and Steve Kirby. Beckham was a Manchester United mascot for a match against West Ham United in 1986. Young Beckham had trials with his local club Leyton Orient, Norwich City and attended Tottenham Hotspur's school of excellence. Tottenham Hotspur was the first club he played for. During a two-year period in which Beckham played for Brimsdown Rovers' youth team, he was named Under-15 Player of the Year in 1990. He also attended Bradenton Preparatory Academy, but signed schoolboy forms at Manchester United on his fourteenth birthday, and subsequently signed a Youth Training Scheme contract on 8 July 1991.
Beckham was part of a group of young players at the club who guided the club to win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, with Beckham scoring in the second leg of the final against Crystal Palace. He made his first appearance for United's first-team that year, as a substitute in a League Cup match against Brighton & Hove Albion, and signed his first professional contract shortly afterwards. United reached the final of the Youth Cup again the following year, with Beckham playing in their defeat by Leeds United, and he won another medal in 1994 when the club's reserve team won their league, although he did not play in any first team games that season.
On 7 December 1994, Beckham made his UEFA Champions League debut, scoring a goal in a 4–0 victory at home to Galatasaray in the final game of the group stage. However, this victory was of little use as they finished third out of four in their group behind FC Barcelona on goal difference.
He then went to Preston North End on loan for part of the 1994–95 season to get some first team experience. He impressed, scoring two goals in five appearances, notably scoring directly from a corner kick. Beckham returned to Manchester and finally made his Premier League debut for Manchester United on 2 April 1995, in a goal-less draw against Leeds United. He played four times for United in the league that season, as they finished second behind Blackburn Rovers and missed a third successive Premier League title by a single point. He was not in the squad for United's FA Cup final clash with Everton on 20 May, which they lost 1–0 and were left without a major trophy for the first time since 1989.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had a great deal of confidence in the club's young players. Beckham was part of a group of young talents Ferguson brought in to United in the 1990s (known as "Fergie's Fledglings"), which included Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville. When experienced players Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, and Andrei Kanchelskis left the club after the end of the 1994–95 season, his decision to let youth team players replace them instead of buying star players from other clubs (United had been linked with moves for players including Darren Anderton, Marc Overmars, and Roberto Baggio, but no major signings were made that summer), drew a great deal of criticism. The criticism increased when United started the season with a 3–1 defeat at Aston Villa, with Beckham scoring United's only goal of the game; however, United won their next five matches and the young players performed well.
Beckham swiftly established himself as United's right-sided midfielder (rather than a right-winger in the style of his predecessor Andrei Kanchelskis) and helped them to win the Premier League title and FA Cup double that season, scoring the winner in the semi-final against Chelsea and also provided the corner that Eric Cantona scored from in the FA Cup Final. Beckham's first title medal had, for a while, looked like it would not be coming that season, as United were still 10 points adrift of leaders Newcastle United at the turn of the new year, but Beckham and his team-mates had overhauled the Tynesiders at the top of the league by mid March and they remained top until the end of the season.
At the beginning of the 1996–97 season David Beckham was given the number 10 shirt that had most recently been worn by Mark Hughes. On 17 August 2021 (the first day of the Premier League season), Beckham became something of a household name when he scored a spectacular goal in a match against Wimbledon. With United leading 2–0, Beckham noticed that Wimbledon's goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was standing a long way out of his goal, and hit a shot from the halfway line that floated over the goalkeeper and into the net. When Beckham scored his famous goal, he did so in shoes custom-made for Charlie Miller ("Charlie" embroidered on boots), which had been given to Beckham by mistake. In a UK poll conducted by Channel 4 in 2002, the British public voted the goal No.18 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. During the 1996–97 season, he became an automatic first-choice player at United helping them to retain the Premier League championship, and being voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers.
On 18 May 1997, Eric Cantona retired as a player and left the coveted number 7 shirt free, and with Teddy Sheringham arriving from Tottenham Hotspur as Cantona's successor, Beckham left his number 10 shirt for Sheringham and picked up the number 7 jersey. Some fans had felt the number 7 shirt should be retired after Cantona had himself retired, but the shirt number remains in use to this day (most recently by another England star Michael Owen).
In the 1998–99 season, he was part of the United team that won The Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, a unique feat in English football. There had been speculation that the criticism that he had received after being sent off in the World Cup would lead to him leaving England, but he decided to stay at Manchester United.
To ensure they would win the Premier League title, United needed to win their final league match of the season, at home to Tottenham Hotspur (with reports suggesting that the opposition would allow themselves to be easily beaten to prevent their deadly local rivals Arsenal from retaining the title), but Tottenham took an early lead in the match. Beckham scored the equaliser and United went on to win the match and the league.
Beckham played centre-midfield in United's win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, since United's first string centre-midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were suspended for the match. United were losing the match 1–0 at the end of normal time, but won the trophy by scoring two goals in injury time. Both of the goals came from corners taken by Beckham. Those crucial assists, coupled with great performances over the rest of the season, led to him finishing runner up to Rivaldo for 1999's European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
Despite Beckham's achievements in the 1998–99 season, he was still unpopular among some opposition fans and journalists, and he was criticised after being sent off for a deliberate foul in Manchester United's World Club Championship match against Necaxa. It was suggested in the press that his wife was a bad influence on him, and that it might be in United's interests to sell him, but his manager publicly backed him and he stayed at the club. During the 1999–2000 season, there was a talk of a transfer to Juventus in Italy, but this never happened.
By the early 2000s, the relationship between Ferguson and Beckham had begun to deteriorate, possibly as a result of Beckham's fame and commitments away from football. In 2000, Beckham was given permission to miss training to look after his son Brooklyn, who had gastroenteritis, but Ferguson was furious when Victoria Beckham was photographed at a London Fashion Week event on the same night, claiming that Beckham would have been able to train if Victoria had looked after Brooklyn that day. He responded by fining Beckham the maximum amount that was permitted (two weeks' wages – then £50,000) and dropping him for a crucial match against United's rivals Leeds United. He later criticised Beckham for this in his autobiography, claiming he had not been "fair to his teammates" Beckham had a good season for his club, though, and helped United to win the Premier League by a record margin.
Beckham helped United retain the Premier League title in 1999–2000 by an 18-point margin – after being pushed by Arsenal and Leeds United for much of the season, United won their final 11 league games of the season, with Beckham scoring five goals during this fantastic run of form. He managed six league goals that season, and scored eight goals in all competitions.
He was a key player in United's third successive league title in 2000–01 – only the fourth time that any club had achieved three league titles in a row. He scored nine goals that season, all in the Premier League.
On 10 April 2002, Beckham was injured during a Champions League match against Deportivo La Coruña, breaking the second metatarsal bone in his left foot. There was speculation in the British media that the injury might have been caused deliberately, as the player who had injured Beckham was Argentine Aldo Duscher, and England and Argentina were due to meet in that year's World Cup. The injury prevented Beckham from playing for United for the rest of the season and they missed out on the Premier League title to Arsenal (also being knocked out of the European Cup by Bayer Leverkusen on away goals in the semi-finals), but he signed a three-year contract in May, following months of negotiations with the club, mostly concerning extra payments for his image rights. The income from his new contract, and his many endorsement deals, made him the highest-paid player in the world at the time.
2001–02 was arguably Beckham's best season as a United player, though. He scored 11 goals in 28 league games, and a total of 16 goals in 42 games in all competitions, the best tally of his career.
Following an injury early in the 2002–03 season, Beckham was unable to regain his place on the Manchester United team, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær having replaced him on the right side of midfield. His relationship with his manager deteriorated further on 15 February 2022 when, in the changing room following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, a furious Alex Ferguson threw  or kicked a boot that struck Beckham over the eye, causing a cut that required stitches. The incident led to a great deal of transfer speculation involving Beckham, with bookmakers offering odds on whether he or Ferguson would be first to leave the club. Although the team had started the season badly, their results improved greatly from December onwards and they won the league, with Beckham managing a total of 11 goals in 52 games in all competitions.
Beckham had made 265 Premier league appearances for United and scored 61 goals. He also made 81 Champions league appearances, scoring 15 goals. Beckham won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one European Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one FA Youth Cup in the space of 12 years. By this stage, he was their joint second longest serving player behind Ryan Giggs (having joined them at the same time as Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes).
As the summer 2003 transfer window approached Manchester United appeared keen to sell Beckham to FC Barcelona and the two clubs even announced that they reached a deal to move the player to Barcelona, but instead he joined reigning Spanish champions Real Madrid for €35 million (£25m) transfer fee on a four-year contract as the latest of the galáctico signings by club president Florentino Pérez. The news came as a bitter pill to the newly elected Barça president Joan Laporta who based much of his presidential campaign precisely on signing Beckham. Though announced in mid-June, the transfer was completed on 1 July 2003, making him the third Englishman to play for the club after Laurie Cunningham and Steve McManaman. Following a successful medical on 2 July, Beckham was unveiled in front of 500 accredited journalists from 25 countries at Real's basketball facility where he was handed the Real shirt by club legend Alfredo di Stéfano. Although Beckham had worn the number seven shirt for Manchester United and England, he was unable to wear it at Madrid as it was currently assigned to club captain Raúl. The Englishman decided to wear number 23 instead, citing his admiration of basketball player Michael Jordan, who also wore the number 23 shirt, as the reason behind his decision.
In the week before Beckham presentation, Real named Carlos Queiroz as their new head coach, meaning that Beckham got reunited with a familiar face upon arriving to Madrid since Queiroz spent the previous season as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United. In late July 2003, the club went on a tour of the Far East as part of the pre-season training, but also to cash in on Beckham's huge marketing appeal in Asia where he enjoyed tremendous following. Real's brand recognition in that part of the globe was already well established as the club made financially successful trips to Asia during previous off-seasons, however the presence of global marketing icon such as Beckham made this particular tour a financial smash for los Merengues.
Shortly after his Real switch, Beckham also ended his relationship with agent Tony Stephens of SFX Europe who had guided him through his career up until this point, including helping to engineer Beckham's move from Manchester to Madrid. Beckham signed on with Simon Fuller and his company 19 Entertainment that already managed the career of David's wife Victoria. Beckham also appointed close friend Terry Byrne to be his personal manager.
In late August 2003, Real Madrid won the Spanish Super Cup over two legs versus RCD Mallorca, with Beckham scoring the final goal in a 3–0 return leg win at home, thus setting the stage for the start of the league season. Playing on a star-laden team along with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Raúl, Iker Casillas, etc., Beckham did not require much time to settle in, scoring five times in his first 16 matches (including a goal less than three minutes into his La Liga debut). Queiroz mostly favoured the adaptable 5–3–2 formation with two fullbacks Michel Salgado and Roberto Carlos often joining the attack down the wings, while Beckham quickly found a regular playing spot on the right of the 3-man midfield alongside Zidane and Figo.
Real Madrid were runners-up in the Copa del Rey, were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage and finished the league season in fourth place, meaning the team, whose president Pérez expected them to win either the Spanish league or the Champions League each season, did not match expectations.
In July 2004, while Beckham was in pre-season training in Spain, an intruder scaled a wall at the Beckham home while carrying a can of petrol. Victoria and their children were in the house at the time, but security guards apprehended the man before he reached the house.
The league season began with new head coach José Antonio Camacho behind the bench, but he ended up lasting only three matches, handing in his resignation following week 3 fixture as Real dropped to eighth spot in the La Liga standings. Camacho's assistant Mariano García Remón took over on temporary basis as Real leadership scrambled to find a permanent replacement. Beckham made more headlines on 9 October 2021 when he admitted intentionally fouling Ben Thatcher in an England match against Wales in order to get himself booked. Beckham was due to receive a one-match suspension for his next caution, and had picked up an injury, which he knew would keep him out of England's next match, so he deliberately fouled Thatcher in order to serve his suspension in a match that he would have had to miss anyway. The Football Association asked Beckham for an explanation of his actions and he admitted that he had "made a mistake" and apologised. He was sent off shortly afterwards, this time in a league match for Real Madrid against Valencia CF. Having received a yellow card, he was judged to have sarcastically applauded the referee and was given a second yellow card, causing an automatic dismissal, although the suspension was cancelled on appeal two days later.
By Christmas 2004, with the team sitting in second league spot, García Remón was gone as Vanderlei Luxemburgo became the new head coach. However, the well-traveled Brazilian failed to inspire the team to the title as Real again finished the season in the runner-up spot.
On 3 December 2005, Beckham was sent off for the third time that season in a league match against Getafe CF. One day later Luxemburgo got the axe and was replaced with Juan Ramón López Caro. By the end of that season, Beckham led La Liga in number of assists.
During the season, Beckham established football academies in Los Angeles and east London and he was named a judge for the 2006 British Book Awards. Real Madrid finished second to Barcelona in the 2005–06 La Liga, albeit with a large 12-point gap, and reached the last 16 only in the Champions League after losing to Arsenal. The season also marked the end of an era for the club as Pérez resigned his president post in January 2006 with Vicente Boluda named as replacement on interim basis until the end of the season.
The summer 2006 off-season marked a turbulent time as club president elections were held. Ramón Calderón became the new Real president. As expected, none of the club officials that served under the previous president were kept, including head coach López Caro.
Initially out of favour with newly arrived head coach Fabio Capello, Beckham started only a few games at the beginning of the season, as the speedier José Antonio Reyes was normally preferred on the right wing. In the first nine matches Beckham started, Real lost seven.
On 10 January 2007, after prolonged contract negotiations, Real Madrid's sporting director Predrag Mijatović announced that Beckham would not remain at Real Madrid after the end of the season. However, he later claimed that he was mistranslated and that he actually said that Beckham's contract had not yet been renewed.
On 11 January 2007, Beckham announced that he had signed a five-year deal to play for Los Angeles Galaxy beginning 1 July 2007. On 13 January 2007, Fabio Capello said that Beckham had played his last game for Real Madrid, although he would continue to train with the team. A few days later while speaking to the students at Villanueva University Center in Madrid, club president Calderón said 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".
However, about a month later, Capello backtracked on his earlier statement, allowing Beckham to rejoin the team for the match against Real Sociedad on 10 February 2007. The player immediately repaid his head coach's trust by scoring the equalising goal from a 27-yard free kick as Real Madrid eventually recorded a 2–1 victory. In his final UEFA Champions League appearance for the club, Real Madrid were knocked out of the competition by Bayern Munich at the round-of-16 stage (on the away goals rule) on 7 March 2007. The return leg against Bayern was Beckham's 103rd match in the Champions League, at the time placing him third on the all-time appearances list in the competition.
On 17 June 2007, the last day of the La Liga season, Beckham started in his final match for the club, a 3–1 win over RCD Mallorca, which saw them clinch the title from Barcelona. With Real down 0–1 Beckham limped off the field and was replaced by José Antonio Reyes who scored two goals leading the team to that season's La Liga title, their first since Beckham had signed with them and 30th overall in club's history. Although Real and Barca both finished level on points, Madrid took the title because of superior head-to-head record, capping a remarkable six-month turnaround for Beckham. With his wife and children along with celebrity friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes watching from a luxury box at Bernabeu Stadium, it was only Beckham's second piece of silverware since he joined the famous club.
Towards the end of the season, as Beckham was getting back into Capello's good books after successfully fighting his way back into the first team, Real Madrid announced they would try to untie his transfer to LA Galaxy, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Several weeks before Beckham's scheduled arrival to the United States, Real's management contacted LA Galaxy's ownership group about reacquiring the player, but were quickly turned down.
A month after the conclusion of Beckham's Real career, Forbes magazine reported that he had been the party primarily responsible for the team's huge increase in merchandise sales, a total reported to top US$600 million during Beckham's four years at the club.
Los Angeles Galaxy
Beckham's involvement with Major League Soccer began while he was still a Real Madrid player when it was confirmed on 11 January 2022 that he would be leaving Madrid in six months in order to join MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham's official press conference to announce the decisions was held the following day in conjunction with the 2007 MLS SuperDraft.
Some media outlets reported the deal to be worth US$250 million. The figure was disputed, as it was misreported as an official offer from the Galaxy rather than a floated request from Beckham's management that included other perks and promotional revenues. For example, it was reported that part of the contract included the right to purchase an MLS-expansion team at a fixed price. Beckham's actual deal with the Galaxy was a 5-year contract worth US$32.5 million in total or $6.5 million per year (more than fifty times the average salary of an MLS player). The cost of his signing was spread evenly among the then 14 MLS teams rather than picked up just by LA Galaxy because the goal was to boost the standing in America of professional soccer as a whole, against the country’s indigenous sports.
The high-profile acquisition paid immediate financial dividends for Galaxy long before Beckham joined the team. On the strength of the signing and the media frenzy it created, the club was able to pull off a new 5-year shirt sponsorship deal with Herbalife nutrition company worth US$20 million. The gate revenue peaked as well with 11,000 new season tickets holders and sold-out luxury suites (each one of the 42 inside the team's home ground, the Home Depot Center). Even the LA Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) saw an immediate spike in business. Involved on many business fronts worldwide, AEG was already leveraging its Beckham association in places such as China, where the company had been working aggressively in Shanghai and Beijing for years to receive clearance to build arenas and stadiums. The company's CEO Tim Leiweke put it as follows: "Suddenly, we're known as the company that owns the team that David Beckham is going to play for, so our world changed".
In the months following the announcement, the additional terms of Beckham's contract became public knowledge. One unique contract provision was giving him the option of buying an MLS expansion franchise at a fixed price whenever he stopped playing in the league – an allowance that the league's owners had never given to a player before. Another provision was the opt-out clause after the 2009 season, meaning that should he decide so, Beckham was free to leave the club after completing year three of his 5-year contract.
Beckham's contract with LA Galaxy took effect on 11 July, and on 13 July, the famous Englishman was officially unveiled as a Galaxy player at the Home Depot Center to much fanfare and world media interest in front of more than 5,000 gathered fans and some 700 accredited media members. Beckham chose to wear number 23. It was announced that Galaxy jersey sales had already reached a record figure of over 250,000 prior to this formal introduction.
In conjunction with his move to Los Angeles Beckham was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine in July of 2007, and a few weeks earlier Adidas launched the extensive 13-part ad campaign "Fútbol meets Football" featuring Beckham, and W magazine published a photo spread featuring David and wife Victoria photographed by Steven Klein. The photo spread's title made reference to Beckham's management company and it's owner's relationship with American Idol. A television documentary entitled David Beckham: New Beginnings was produced by his management company as well, directed by Gary Brooks, which aired before the friendly match versus Chelsea, which was Beckham's American debut. On 16 July, CAA had hosted a welcome event for David at its new eight-storey, $400 million headquarters in Century City that was covered by tabloid news magazines including Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.
On Saturday afternoon, 21 July, despite still nursing the injured left ankle that he picked up a month earlier during the final match of La Liga's season, Beckham made his Galaxy debut, coming on for Alan Gordon in the 78th minute of a 0–1 friendly loss to Chelsea as part of the World Series of Soccer. With a capacity crowd, along with a long Hollywood celebrity list featuring Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Eva Longoria, Mary-Kate Olsen, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Alicia Silverstone and Drew Carey among others, present at the Home Depot Center, the match was broadcast live on ESPN's main network. However, the proceedings on the field of play completely took a back seat to the Beckham spectacle, and despite the presence of worldwide football stars Andriy Shevchenko, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, and John Terry, the US television cameras were firmly focused on Beckham who spent most of the match on the bench. The match's added time featured a scare for already injured Beckham when he got tackled by Steve Sidwell whose cleats struck Beckham's right foot, sending him airborne before he crumpled hard to the ground. Though the existing injury was not aggravated too much, Beckham's recovery process was set back by about a week. ESPN's presentation of Beckham's debut earned a 1.0 TV rating, meaning it was seen in an average of 947,000 television homes in the US – a disappointing figure given the national media buzz and two weeks of constant promotion by ESPN. For comparison ESPN2's weekly MLS broadcasts on Thursdays drew a consistent 0.2 rating on virtually no promotion while Freddy Adu's MLS debut televised on ABC back in 2004 earned a 1.3 rating. As far as sporting events that were televised that weekend in the United States, Beckham's much publicised debut drew less TV viewers than British Open golf tournament, a regular-season national baseball game, and even the Indy Racing League's Honda 200 motor race.
The day after the made-for-TV debut was reserved for the welcoming party for the Beckhams at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, formally billed as being hosted by Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith though in actuality a CAA-organized event. Attended by many Hollywood A-listers, the lavish bash was big news in the US celebrity tabloid media, including daily entertainment TV magazines such as Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.
Back on the soccer front, Beckham missed the next four Galaxy matches – three in the North American SuperLiga and an MLS game away at Toronto FC though he still made the trip with his teammates, sitting on the bench in street clothes. It was in Toronto on 5 August that the team got its first taste of what life would be like on the road with Beckham on the roster. Due to security concerns, it was the first time the team flew on a charter for a road match, rather than flying commercial (MLS normally forbids charter flights for away matches, claiming they provide competitive advantage, but in this case they made an exception due to the frenzy created around Beckham and resulting security issues). Also, instead of the usual MLS-mandated modest hotels, LA Galaxy stayed at the five-star Le Méridien King Edward in downtown Toronto (an expense paid for by the local Toronto promoter), while the glitz and glamour continued with the velvet rope, red carpet party at the Ultra Supper Club with Beckham as the centerpiece guest.
Two weeks after his 12-minute appearance vs. Chelsea, still not fully healed Beckham finally made his league debut as a substitute on 9 August away versus DC United in front of the sellout crowd of 46,686 (nearly three times the average DC United home crowd) at the RFK Stadium, coming on for Quavas Kirk in the 71st minute. Coming into the nationally televised match on ESPN, played under a heavy downpour with his team down a man and down a goal, even if only 70% fit, Beckham left a mark during the remaining twenty plus minutes. He hit a long free kick that Carlos Pavón failed to finish on for the equalizier, and then in the final minutes Beckham served a weighted through ball into Donovan's path that United's keeper Troy Perkins managed to break up in the last moment – the Galaxy lost 1–0. The next match on the road trip was at New England Revolution and Beckham decided to sit it out, fearing further aggrivating his ankle on the Gillette Stadium's artificial surface.
Beckham returned to the pitch the following week, again facing DC United, in the SuperLiga semi-final on 15 August. During this game he had many firsts with the Galaxy; his first start, first yellow card and first game as team captain. He also scored his first goal for the team, from a free kick, and also made his first assist, for Landon Donovan in the second half. These goals gave the team a 2–0 victory, and a place in the North American SuperLiga final versus Pachuca on 29 August.
During the SuperLiga final against Pachuca, Beckham injured his right knee, with an MRI scan revealing that he had sprained his medial collateral ligament and would be out for six weeks. He returned to play in the final home match of the season. The Galaxy were eliminated from playoff contention on 21 October, in the final MLS match of the season, a 1–0 loss to the Chicago Fire. Beckham played as a substitute in the match, bringing his season totals to eight matches played (5 league); one goal scored (0 league); and three assists (2 league).
Beckham trained with Arsenal from 4 January 2022 for three weeks, until he returned to the Galaxy for pre-season training. Beckham scored his first league goal with the Galaxy on 3 April against the San Jose Earthquakes in the 9th minute. On 24 May 2008, the Galaxy defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3–1, giving the Galaxy their first winning record in two years and moving the club into first place in the Western Conference. In the match, Beckham scored an empty-net goal from 70 yards out. The goal marked the second time in Beckham's career that he had scored from his own half, the other being a 1996 goal from the half-way line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Overall, however, the Galaxy had a disappointing year, failing to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs.
Loan to Milan
In 2008, Beckham's success in the England national team under Fabio Capello led to speculation that he might return to Europe in order to retain match fitness for the World Cup qualifying matches in 2009. On 30 October 2008, Milan announced that Beckham was to join them on loan from 7 January 2009. Despite this and other speculation, Beckham made it clear that the move in no way signalled his intent to leave MLS and announced his intent to return to the Galaxy in time for the start of the 2009 season in March. Many at Milan both within and outside of the club expressed serious reservations about the transfer, with it considered by some players no more than a marketing move. At Milan, he chose the number 32 shirt previously worn by Christian Vieri, as both the number 7 and 23 shirts were already used by Alexandre Pato and club captain Massimo Ambrosini, respectively. After his physical, Beckham was reportedly told by a club doctor that he believed he can continue playing football for another five years, when he will be 38.
Beckham made his Serie A debut for Milan against Roma on 11 January 2022 and played 89 minutes of the 2–2 draw. He scored his first goal in Serie A for Milan in a 4–1 victory over Bologna on 25 January, his third appearance for the club. Though Beckham was expected to return to L.A. in March, after impressing at the Italian club, scoring two goals in his first four matches and assisting on several more, rumours began to swirl that Beckham would stay in Milan, with the Italian club reportedly offering to pay a multi-million dollar fee for him. The rumours were confirmed on 4 February, when Beckham stated that he was seeking a permanent transfer to Milan, in a bid to sustain his England career through the 2010 World Cup. However, Milan failed to match Galaxy's valuation of Beckham, in the US$10–15 million range.
Still, negotiations continued during a month of speculation. On 2 March, the Los Angeles Times reported that Beckham's loan had been extended through mid-July. This was later confirmed by Beckham, revealing what was described as a unique "timeshare" deal, in which Beckham would play with L.A. from mid-July till the end of the 2009 MLS season.
Return to Galaxy
After his return from Milan, many LA fans showed dislike and anger towards him as he missed the first half of the season and several held up signs saying "Go home fraud", and "Part time player". However, the Galaxy had a much more successful season than in previous years, rising from third to first in the Western Conference during Beckham's time with them. He remained a key part of the squad which saw Galaxy win the 2009 Western Conference final after a 2–0 overtime victory over the Houston Dynamo. In the final on 22 November 2009, the Galaxy lost to Real Salt Lake by 5–4 in a penalty shoot-out after a 1–1 draw. Beckham also scored in the shootout.
Second loan spell at Milan
In November 2009, after the end of 2009 MLS season, it was confirmed that Beckham would return to Milan for a second loan period beginning in January 2010. On 6 January 2010, Beckham made a winning return in a Milan shirt, playing 75 minutes of a 5–2 victory over Genoa. On 16 February 2010, Beckham played against Manchester United for the first time since he left the club in 2003. He played 76 minutes of the match at the San Siro – which ended 3–2 to Manchester United – before being substituted for Clarence Seedorf.
Beckham returned to Old Trafford for the second leg of the tie on 10 March 2010; he did not start the match, but was brought on for Ignazio Abate in the 64th minute to a positive reception from the Manchester United fans. The score was 3–0 for United at that point and the tie was all but decided. The match was the first time Beckham had played against Manchester United at Old Trafford and saw him create several scoring opportunities via crosses and corner kicks, but Manchester United dominated Milan and beat them 4–0, winning the tie 7–2. Following the final whistle, he aroused a bit of controversy by draping the green-and-gold scarf around his neck that was given to him by the Manchester United supporters protesting against club owner Malcolm Glazer. As the fan protests against Glazer by the people gathered around Manchester United Supporters' Trust gained steam in 2010, the green-and-gold scarf had come to be seen as an anti-Glazer symbol, and by extension many saw Beckham's decision to publicly put it on as gesture of support. However, when asked about it later Beckham responded that protests are not his business.
In Milan's next game, against ChievoVerona, Beckham suffered a torn left Achilles tendon, causing him to miss the World Cup as well as the MLS season due to the injury, which took him out of action for the next five months. Doctor Sakari Orava performed surgery on Beckham's tendon in Turku, Finland, on 15 March 2010. After the operation, Orava affirmed that "it went quite fine. The prognosis is he needs a rehabilitation for the next few months, and the plaster cast is the next six to eight weeks. I would say that [it will be] maybe four months before he's running, but six months before he's jumping and kicking."
Second return to Galaxy
On 11 September 2010, after recovering from his Achilles tendon injury, Beckham returned to the game as a substitute in the 70th minute in the Galaxy's 3–1 win over Columbus Crew. On 4 October, Beckham scored a trademark free kick in a 2–1 win over Chivas to mark his first goal in 2010. On 24 October, Beckham scored his second goal of the season in the Galaxy's 2–1 win over Dallas which secured them their second successive Western Conference title and first MLS Supporters' Shield since 2002.
During January and February 2011, ahead of the 2011 MLS season, Beckham trained with Tottenham Hotspur. Rumours in the media claimed that the club were in talks with the Galaxy to sign the player on loan, but, according to Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, the move was blocked by Galaxy, who wanted a full final season from their number 23. As a result, he ended up only training with the club as he had done with Arsenal three years earlier. With Beckham playing in the centre of midfield, the Los Angeles Galaxy won the 2011 MLS cup.
MLS Cup Champion
On 15 May, Beckham scored his first goal of the season for the Galaxy from a 30-yard free kick, in a 4–1 victory over Sporting Kansas City. On 9 July, Beckham scored directly from a corner in a 2–1 win over Chicago Fire, repeating a feat he also achieved while playing for Preston North End.
After having his best season with the Galaxy to date and finishing second in the league in assists, Beckham finished his fifth MLS season on a high. On 20 November 2011, he joined an elite group of players to have won three league titles in three different countries, when Los Angeles won their third MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo, winning 1–0 on a goal by captain Landon Donovan, with assists from Beckham and fellow designated player, Robbie Keane. Had it been Beckham's final match for the Galaxy, it would have been the third time he has won a league championship in his final match for a club, repeating the feat he accomplished with Manchester United in 2003 and Real Madrid in 2007.
Following the 2011 season, in which the Galaxy won their second consecutive Supporters' Shield, having the second most points in MLS history, Beckham's five-year contract with the Galaxy expired on 31 December 2011. Despite being 36, he stated that he did not intend to retire. Beckham was heavily linked with Paris Saint-Germain, but on 18 January 2012, Galaxy announced Beckham had signed a new two-year contract to remain in Los Angeles.
Beckham had played in all of England's qualifying matches for the 1998 World Cup and was part of the England squad at the World Cup finals in France, but the team's manager Glenn Hoddle publicly accused him of not concentrating on the tournament, and he did not start in either of England's first two matches. He was picked for their third match against Colombia and scored from a long-range free kick in a 2–0 victory, which was his first goal for England.
In the second round (last 16) of that competition, he received a red card in England's match against Argentina. Beckham, after having been fouled by Diego Simeone, kicked Simeone whilst lying on the floor, striking him on the calf muscle. Sports Illustrated was critical of the Argentinians' theatrics in that incident, stating that Simeone first delivered a "heavy-handed challenge" on Beckham and then "fell like a ton of bricks" when Beckham retaliated. Simeone later admitted to trying to get Beckham sent off by over-reacting to the kick and then, along with other members of his team, urging the referee to send Beckham off. The match finished in a draw and England were eliminated in a penalty shootout. Many supporters and journalists blamed him for England's elimination and he became the target of criticism and abuse, including the hanging of an effigy outside a London pub, and the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with a picture of him centred on the bullseye. Beckham also received death threats after the World Cup.
The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England's 3–2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, a match where Beckham set up two goals, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match. Beckham responded by raising his middle finger and, while the gesture attracted some criticism, many of the newspapers that had previously encouraged his vilification asked their readers to stop abusing him.
On 15 November 2000, following Kevin Keegan's resignation as England manager in October, Beckham was promoted to team captain by the caretaker manager Peter Taylor, and then kept the role under new manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. He helped England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals, with their performances including an impressive 5–1 victory over Germany in Munich. The final step in Beckham's conversion from villain to hero happened in England's 2–2 draw against Greece on 6 October 2001. England needed to win or draw the match in order to qualify outright for the World Cup, but were losing 2–1 with little time remaining. When Teddy Sheringham was fouled eight yards (7 metres) outside the Greek penalty area, England were awarded a free-kick and Beckham ensured England's qualification with a curling strike of the kind that had become his trademark. Shortly afterwards, he was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2001. He once again finished runner-up, to Luís Figo of Portugal, for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Beckham was partially fit by the time of the 2002 World Cup and played in the first match against Sweden. Beckham scored the winning goal of the match against Argentina with a penalty, causing Argentina to fail to qualify for the knockout stage. England were knocked out of the tournament in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Brazil. The following month, at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Beckham escorted Kirsty Howard as she presented the Jubilee Baton to the Queen.
Beckham played in all of England's matches at Euro 2004, but the tournament was a disappointment for him. He had a penalty saved in England's 2–1 defeat to France and missed another in a penalty shootout in the quarter-final match against Portugal. England lost the shootout thus going out of the competition.
Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in January 2005 and was involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. In October 2005, Beckham's sending off against Austria made him the first ever England captain to be sent off and the first player to be sent off twice while playing for England. He captained England for the 50th time in a friendly international against Argentina the following month.
In England's opening game at the 2006 World Cup, against Paraguay on 10 June 2006, Beckham's free kick led to an own-goal by Carlos Gamarra as England won 1–0. In England's next match, played against Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June 2006, Beckham's cross in the 83rd minute led to a Peter Crouch goal, which put England into the lead 1–0. Beckham gave another assist to Steven Gerrard. In the end they won 2–0. He was named Man of the Match by tournament sponsor Budweiser for this game.
During England's second round match against Ecuador, Beckham scored from a free kick in the 59th minute, becoming the first ever English player to score in three separate World Cups, and giving England a 1–0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals. He was sick before the game and vomited several times as a result of dehydration and illness after he scored the winning goal.
In the quarter-final against Portugal, Beckham was substituted following an injury shortly after half time and the England team went on to lose the match on penalties (3–1), the score having been 0–0 after extra time. After his substitution, Beckham was visibly shaken and emotional for not being able to play, being in tears at one point.
A day after England were knocked out of the World Cup, an emotional Beckham made a statement in a news conference saying that he had stepped down as England captain, saying, "It has been an honour and privilege to captain my country but, having been captain for 58 of my 95 games, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under Steve McClaren." (Beckham had actually won 94 caps up to that point.) He was succeeded by Chelsea captain John Terry.
Having stepped down as captain after the World Cup, Beckham was dropped completely from the England national team selected by new coach Steve McClaren on 11 August 2006. McClaren claimed that he was "looking to go in a different direction" with the team, and that Beckham "wasn't included within that." McClaren said Beckham could be recalled in future. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kieran Richardson, and the World Cup alternative to Beckham, Aaron Lennon, were all included, although McClaren eventually opted to employ Steven Gerrard in that role.
On 26 May 2007, McClaren announced that Beckham would be recalled to the England squad for the first time since stepping down as their captain. Beckham started against Brazil in England's first match at the new Wembley Stadium and put in a positive performance. In the second half, he set up England's goal converted by captain John Terry. It looked as though England would claim victory over Brazil, but newcomer Diego equalised in the dying seconds. In England's next match, a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia, Beckham sent two trademark assists for Michael Owen and Peter Crouch, helping England to prevail 3–0.
On 22 August 2007, Beckham played in a friendly for England against Germany, becoming the first ever to play for England while with a non-European club team. On 21 November 2007, Beckham earned his 99th cap against Croatia, setting up a goal for Peter Crouch to tie the game at 2–2. Following the 2–3 loss, England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 Finals. Despite this, Beckham said that he has no plans to retire from international football and wanted to continue playing for the national team. After being passed over by new England coach and Beckham's former manager at Real Madrid, Fabio Capello, for a friendly against Switzerland which would have given him his hundredth cap; Beckham admitted that he was not in shape at the time, as he had not played a competitive match in three months.
On 20 March 2008, Beckham was recalled to the England squad by Capello for the friendly against France in Paris on 26 March. Beckham became only the fifth Englishman to win 100 caps. Capello had hinted on 25 March 2022 that Beckham had a long term future in his side ahead of crucial qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. On 11 May 2008, Capello included an in-form Beckham in his 31 man England squad to face the United States at Wembley Stadium on 28 May before the away fixture with Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June. Beckham was honoured before the match by receiving an honorary gold cap representing his 100th cap from Bobby Charlton, and was given a standing ovation from the crowd. He played well and assisted John Terry on the match-winning goal. When substituted at half-time for David Bentley, the pro-Beckham crowd booed the decision. In a surprise move, Capello handed Beckham the captaincy for England's friendly against Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June 2008. The match was the first time since the 2006 World Cup that Beckham had skippered England and marked a dramatic turnaround for Beckham. In two years, he had gone from being dropped completely from the England squad to being reinstated (though temporarily) as England captain.
During the 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Belarus in which England won 3–1 in Minsk, Beckham came off the bench in the 87th minute to earn his 107th cap making him England's 3rd highest capped player in history, over-taking Bobby Charlton in the process. On 11 February 2009, Beckham drew level with Bobby Moore's record of 108 caps for an English outfield player, coming on as a substitute for Stewart Downing in a friendly match against Spain. On 28 March 2009, Beckham surpassed Moore to hold the record outright when he came on as a substitute in a friendly against Slovakia, providing the assist for a goal from Wayne Rooney in the process.
In all, Beckham had made 16 appearances out of a possible 20 for England under Capello until his ruptured Achilles tendon of March 2010 ruled him out of selection for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. His last game for England before injury had been on 14 October 2021 as a substitute in England's last World Cup qualifying game, which ended England 3 – 0 Belarus. While unable to play, Beckham still went to the tournament as part of the England back-room staff, acting as a mediator between management and the players.
After a poor performance from England at the World Cup Capello remained as manager, but was under pressure to revamp the England squad for the imminent UEFA Euro 2012 qualification campaign. He unveiled a new team at the next England match, a home friendly game against Hungary on 11 August 2010, with Beckham still unavailable for selection but aiming for a return to playing in the MLS by the following month. In the post-match interview, Capello said of the prospect of the now 35-year-old Beckham playing any future competitive matches for England, that "I need to change it. David is a fantastic player but I think we need new players for the future", referring to the new players that play in Beckham's right midfield position, including Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson, adding "This is the future of the team under Fabio Capello or another manager". He said that Beckham may be selected for one last friendly game, stating, "If he is fit, I hope we will play one more game here at Wembley so the fans can say goodbye". In response to the comments, Beckham's agent released a statement reiterating Beckham's position that he had no desire to retire from international football, and would always make himself available for selection for England if fit and if needed.
Due to an injury suffered to his torn left Achilles tendon, Beckham was forced to miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a player. On 14 May 2022 it was announced that Beckham would work as a mediator between management and the players, and as an English member of the coaching staff for the England national football team at the tournament. As an agreement between Beckham, his representatives, his club, Los Angeles Galaxy and Fabio Capello, the former England captain was on the plane to South Africa on 2 June.
Former manager Alex Ferguson said that he "practised with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn't care about." He maintained his training routine at Real Madrid and even when his relationship with management was strained in early 2007, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón and manager Fabio Capello praised Beckham for maintaining his professionalism and commitment to the club.
Beckham was the first England player ever to collect two red cards and the first England captain to be sent off. Beckham's most notorious red card was during the 1998 FIFA World Cup after Argentina's Diego Simeone had fouled him, Beckham lashed out with his leg and the Argentine fell.
He amassed 41 yellow cards and four red cards for Real Madrid.
Orders and special awards
David Beckham Academy
In 2005, Beckham founded the David Beckham Academy football school, operating from two sites: in London and in Los Angeles, California. It was announced in late 2009 that both would close. A mobile academy is being developed by Beckham, to travel around the UK and further afield.
In 1997, Beckham started dating Victoria Adams, after she attended a Manchester United match. She was famously known as "Posh Spice" of the pop music group Spice Girls, one of the world's top pop groups at the time, and his team was also enjoying a great run of success. Therefore, their relationship instantly attracted a great deal of media attention. The couple were dubbed "Posh and Becks" by the media. He proposed to her on 24 January 2022 in a restaurant in Cheshunt, England.
On 4 July 1999, David and Victoria married at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland. The wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham's teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple's infant son, Brooklyn, was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony, as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! Magazine, but newspapers were still able to obtain photographs showing them sitting on golden thrones. 437 staff were employed for the wedding reception, which was estimated to have cost £500,000.
In 1999, David and Victoria Beckham purchased their most famous home in Hertfordshire, unofficially dubbed Beckingham Palace, estimated to be worth £7.5 million. David and Victoria Beckham have four children: sons Brooklyn Joseph (born 1999 in London), Romeo James (born 2002 in London), and Cruz David (born 2005 in Madrid; the word "cruz" is Spanish for "cross"); and daughter Harper Seven (born 2011, in Los Angeles). Elton John is godfather to Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham; their godmother is Elizabeth Hurley.
In April 2007, the family purchased their current main residence, an Italian villa in Beverly Hills, to coincide with Beckham's transfer to the Galaxy that July. The mansion, priced at $22 million, is near the homes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and talk-show host Jay Leno, in an exclusive gated community in the hills overlooking the city. The family also owned a home in Dubai.
In April 2004, the British tabloid News of the World carried claims by Beckham's former personal assistant Rebecca Loos that he and Loos had an extramarital affair. A week later, the Malaysian-born Australian model Sarah Marbeck claimed that she had slept with Beckham on two occasions. Beckham dismissed both accusations as "ludicrous". In an interview with W Magazine, Victoria Beckham told a reporter, "I'm not going to lie: it was a really tough time. It was hard for our entire families. But I realised a lot of people have a price."
In December 2008, Beckham and his bodyguard were sued by paparazzi photographer Emicles da Mata, who claimed that he was assaulted by them when attempting to take a picture of Beckham in Beverly Hills. Da Mata is seeking unspecified damages for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In September 2010 Beckham announced that he was pressing charges against prostitute Irma Nici and several others over claims in the magazine In Touch that he had had sex with her. Beckham's court application was dismissed.
Fame beyond football
Beckham's fame extends beyond the pitch; in much of the world his name is "as instantly recognisable as that of multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM." Beckham's relationship and marriage to Victoria, who has been famous in her own right as part of the musical group Spice Girls, contributed to David's celebrity beyond football. So gilded has been the career of Beckham that Victoria revealed her nickname for her husband to be "Golden Balls", an epithet he shares with an obscure mediaeval Anglo-Norman knight whose French name was Latinised to de Aureis Testiculis.
Beckham became known as a fashion plate, and together with Victoria, the couple became lucrative spokespeople sought after by clothing designers, health and fitness specialists, fashion magazines, perfume and cosmetics manufacturers, hair stylists, exercise promoters, and spa and recreation companies. One recent example is a new line of aftershave and fragrances called David Beckham Instinct. In 2002 Beckham was hailed as the ultimate "metrosexual" by the man who invented the term and has been described as such by numerous other articles since. The Beckhams were reportedly paid $13.7 million in 2007 to launch his fragrance line in the US. In the world of fashion, David has already appeared on the covers of many magazines. U.S. covers have included the men's magazine Details, and with his wife for the August 2007 issue of W. According to Google, "David Beckham" was searched for more than any other sports topic on their site in 2003 and 2004. The search engine Ask Jeeves named Beckham in December 2009 as the third most online searched person in the last decade. The findings are based on online activity by British users of the search engine.
Upon their arrival in Los Angeles on 12 July 2007, the night before Beckham's formal introduction, Los Angeles International Airport was filled with paparazzi and news reporters. On the next night, Victoria appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to talk about the their move to LA, and presented Leno with a number 23 Galaxy jersey with his own name on the back. Victoria also talked about her NBC TV show Victoria Beckham: Coming to America. On 22 July, a private welcoming party was held for the couple at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. A-list celebrities attending included Steven Spielberg, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Oprah Winfrey.
Beckham's many endorsement deals make him one of the most recognisable athletes throughout the world. On 31 December 2008, it was announced that Pepsi Co. was ending its endorsement deal with the player after a 10-year collaboration. Beckham has several eponymous video games, including Go! Go! Beckham! Adventure on Soccer Island, a platform game for the Game Boy Advance, and David Beckham Soccer, a football game for the Xbox. In August 2010, Beckham signed an endorsement deal with EA SPORTS to become brand ambassador for EA SPORTS Active 2.
Beckham visited Afghanistan in May 2010 for a morale-boosting visit to British troops fighting the Taliban insurgency. The appearance of Beckham as well as British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Liam Fox was believed to have prompted a Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield. 
Beckham has supported UNICEF since his days at Manchester United and in January 2005, the English national team captain became a Goodwill Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF's Sports for Development program. More recently Beckham has pledged his support for the current Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign.
On 17 January 2007, Rebecca Johnstone, a 19-year-old cancer patient from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, received a surprise phone call from Beckham. After the conversation, he sent her a Real Madrid jersey with his signature on it. Rebecca died on 29 January 2007.
Beckham is a spokesman for Malaria No More, a New York City-based non-profit launched in 2006. Malaria No More's mission is to end deaths caused by malaria in Africa. Beckham appears in a 2007 public service announcement advertising the need for inexpensive bed nets. The TV spot currently airs in the U.S. on Fox Networks, including Fox Soccer Channel, and can also be seen on YouTube.
Since joining Major League Soccer, Beckham has been a very public advocate in the U.S. for related charities such as "MLS W.O.R.K.S." On 17 August 2007, he conducted a youth clinic in Harlem, along with other current and former MLS players. This was in advance of his first New York City area match the following day against the New York Red Bulls. That team's Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Ángel were also with Beckham, teaching skills to disadvantaged youth to benefit FC Harlem Lions.
Appearances in films
Bend It Like Beckham
Beckham never personally appeared in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, except in archive footage. He and his wife wanted to make cameo appearances, but scheduling proved difficult, so the director used lookalikes instead.
The Goal! Trilogy
Beckham makes a cameo appearance with Zinedine Zidane and Raúl, in the 2005 film Goal!: The Dream Begins. Lookalike Andy Harmer, who played him in Bend It Like Beckham, also appears here in one party scene as Beckham. Beckham himself appears in the sequel Goal! 2: Living the Dream... in a larger role, when the film's lead character gets transferred to Real Madrid. This time the story centres around the Real Madrid team, and besides Beckham, other real life Real Madrid players also appear on and off the pitch, alongside the fictional characters. Beckham appeared in Goal! 3: Taking on the World, which was released straight to DVD on 15 June 2009.
Despite moving to Los Angeles, California, Beckham has expressed no personal interest in pursuit of acting roles, saying he is too "stiff".
With his free kick goal against Ecuador in the second round of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Beckham gained membership into two of football's exclusive clubs: he became the only English player – and the 21st player regardless of nationality – to score in three world cups; Real Madrid teammate Raúl also achieved this feat a few days earlier. It also made him only the fifth player in World Cup history to score twice from a direct free kick; the other four were Pelé, Roberto Rivelino, Teófilo Cubillas, and Bernard Genghini (Beckham had previously scored this way against Colombia in the first round of the 1998 FIFA World Cup). All three goals were against South American teams (Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador) and from set pieces (the two aforementioned free kicks and a penalty against Argentina).
Beckham has at least 20 tattoos adorning his body, including recent black-and-white image of Christ drawn on his right side, based on a painting called "The Man Of Sorrows" by Catholic artist Matthew R. Brooks done after the death of his grandfather in 2009. There are also names of his sons Romeo, Cruz and Brooklyn, name of his wife Victoria, written in Hindi, because Beckham thought it would be "tacky" to have it in English. On his right shoulder, there's an angel with the text 'In the face of adversity'. Another tattoo is a Bible verse written in Hebrew, reads אני לדודי ודודי לי הרעה בשושנים, translated into: "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, that shepherds among the lilies." In 2004 Beckham added the four-by-six-inch "winged cross" neck tattoo prior to England's three-nation tournament soccer match against Japan in the City of Manchester Stadium. In his autobiography "David Beckham: My Side", Becks reveals some of his thoughts on tattoos: "The idea came to me much later, a little while after Brooklyn was born. I was talking to Mel B and her then-husband, Jimmy Gulzar, and the subject of tattoos came up. I ended up going to this Dutch guy who'd done all of Jimmy's. I'd finally realised what I wanted a tattoo to represent. Mine are all about the people in my life, my wife and sons, who I want with me always. When you see me, you see the tattoos. You see an expression of how I feel about Victoria and the boys. They're part of me."
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