David Beckham's career began when he signed a professional
contract with Manchester United, making his first first-team
appearance in 1992, at the age of 17. While with Manchester
United he helped them win The Treble of League, FA Cup, and
Champions League in 1999. He left the club to join Real Madrid
in 2003. In 2006, after England's quarter-final exit at the
World Cup in Germany, he resigned as England's captain, at age
31. Beckham was dropped from the England national team selected
by coach Steve McClaren on 11 August 2006.
David Beckham was born in Leytonstone, east London, the son of Ted Beckham, a kitchen fitter and Sandra West, hairdresser. His maternal grandfather is Jewish, and he has spoken of the influence the religion has had on him, although he is not believed to practice this or any other faith. His parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who would regularly travel to Old Trafford by coach and frequently went to away-games. David was a strong cross-country runner who regularly finished first in his age group in the Ess-- cross-country championships, but he had inherited his parents' love of Manchester United and his main 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 in a talent competition.
David was Manchester United's mascot for a match against West Ham United in 1986. The young Beckham had trials with his local club, Leyton Orient and attended Tottenham Hotspur's school of excellence, but signed schoolboy forms at Manchester United on his thirteenth birthday, and subsequently signed a Youth Training Scheme contract on 8 July 1991. He was part of an exceptionally talented group of young players at the club who helped 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.
David Beckham went to Preston North End on loan in the 1994–95 season to get some first team experience, then made his first Premier League appearance for Manchester United on 2 April 1995, in a goalless draw against Leeds United.
United manager Alex Ferguson had a great deal of confidence in the club's young players, and when three of his first-team players left the club at the end of the 1994-95 season, he made the decision to let youth team players replace them instead of buying players from other clubs, initially attracting 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 became a regular player in the team and helped them to win the Premiership and FA Cup double that season, scoring the winner in the semi-final against Chelsea and also taking the corner that Eric Cantona scored from in the FA Cup Final. Still Beckham's form was not good enough to break into the England squad before Euro 96.
In August 1996, Beckham became something of a household name when he scored a spectacular goal in a match against Wimbledon. With United 2–0 ahead, 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. Beckham was frequently mentioned in the press, and he made his first appearance for the England national football team on 1 September 1996, in a World Cup qualifying match against Moldova. He became an automatic first-choice player at United that season, helping them to retain their league championship, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers.
United started the 1997-98 season well, but their results deteriorated when several players became injured and they finished the season in second place behind Arsenal.
Beckham had played in all of England's qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and travelled with the England squad to the finals in France, but the team's manager Glenn Hoddle publicly accused him of not concentrating on the tournament, and he didn't 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.
In the second round of that competition, he received a red card for violent conduct in England's match against Argentina. Beckham, after having been fouled by Diego Simeone, appeared to kick out at his opponent, striking him on the calf. 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 in the middle.
In the 1998–99 season, he was part of the United team that won the treble — 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.
Throughout the season, Beckham was jeered by opposition
supporters whenever he touched the ball, but he consistently
played well and his crossing provided a significant number of
goals for United's forwards Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. United's
supporters had mostly forgiven him for the problems he'd had
with England, and were frequently heard to chant "Argentina" in
response to the other supporters' taunts.
United needed to win their final league match of the season at home to Tottenham Hotspur F.C. to ensure they would win the league championship, but Tottenham took an early lead in the match. Beckham scored their equaliser and United went on to win the match and the league.
Beckham played centre-midfield in United's FA Cup final win over Newcastle United F.C and played centre-midfield for the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich since United's first string centre-midfielders 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 stoppage time. Both of the goals came from corners taken by Beckham, and this, combined with his 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 opposition fans and many journalists, and he was heavily 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.
The relationship between Ferguson and Beckham began 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 hadn't been "fair to his team mates". Beckham had a good season for his club, though, and helped United to win the Premier League by a record margin.
The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England's 3–2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match with chants including "we hope your kid dies of cancer". David Beckham responded with a one-fingered gesture 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 FIFA 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. The rest of the England team were playing relatively poorly, and it was Beckham's inspirational performance that lifted his teammates. When Teddy Sheringham was fouled some eight yards 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 Luis Figo of Portugal, for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
On 10 April 2002, David Beckham was injured during a Champions League match against Deportivo La Coruña, breaking the metatarsal bones of 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 Argentinian 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, 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 the many endorsement deals he had made him the highest-paid player in the world at the time.
He was partially fit by the time of the 2002 FIFA 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 playoff stage. England were eventually knocked out of the tournament by eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals. 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.
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 2003 when, in the changing room following a defeat to Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson kicked a football 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. He was still a first-choice player for England, however, and he was awarded an OBE for services to football on 13 June.
Manchester United had been keen to sell Beckham to Barcelona but he refused to go there, instead signing a four-year contract with Real Madrid, worth a potential €35 million. The transfer was completed on 1 July and made him the third Englishman to play for the club after Laurie Cunningham and Steve McManaman. It was speculated that Real's desire to sign him came from the merchandising opportunities he would bring as well as from his football ability. For example, Real Madrid shirts bearing his name and number sold out in Madrid on the day his transfer was completed and the club were expected to receive €624,000 for the sale of the shirts. Beckham had worn the number seven shirt for Manchester United and England, he was unable to wear it at Madrid as Raúl González had the right to wear it written into his contract. Being a fan of Michael Jordan, he decided to wear 23 instead.
David Beckham immediately became a favourite with the Real Madrid supporters, scoring five times in his first 16 matches, but the team, whose club president expected them to win either the Spanish league or the Champions League each season, was not performing well. He had further problems in April 2004, when the British tabloid News of the World carried claims by his former personal assistant Rebecca Loos that he and Loos had 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". Real Madrid finished the season in a disappointing fourth place, and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
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 against Portugal. England lost the shootout and went out of the competition.
In July 2004, while David Beckham was in pre-season training in Spain, an intruder scaled a wall at the Beckhams' 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. Beckham made more headlines on 9 October 2004 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.
Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in January 2005 and was involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Real Madrid had another disappointing season, finishing second to Barcelona in La Liga and only reaching the last sixteen in the Champions League.
In October 2005, Beckham's sending off against Austria made him the first 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. He was sent off again shortly afterwards, this time in a league match for Real Madrid against Valencia CF. Having received a yellow card, he appeared to sarcastically applaud the referee and was given a second yellow card, causing an automatic dismissal, although the suspension was cancelled on appeal two days later. He was sent off for the third time that season on 3 December in a league match against Getafe.
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.
In England's opening game against Paraguay on June 10, it was Beckham's free kick that led to an own-goal by Carlos Gamarra. In England's next match, played against Trinidad and Tobago on June 15, Beckham's cross in the 83rd minute led to Peter Crouch's goal which put England ahead 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. The English media criticised Beckham's performance in England's final Group B match against Sweden on June 20, citing his apparent inability to take the ball around players as an increasing hindrance to England's chances of winning the World Cup.
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 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 finals stage of the World Cup 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 scores 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 honor and privilege to captain my country but, having been captain for 58 of my 94 caps, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under Steve McClaren."
David Beckham's performances were judged harshly after the World Cup. He was heavily criticised again, but his contribution was vital to England's victories over Paraguay (in previous tournaments England rarely won their opening game), and Ecuador, and his cross led to Peter Crouch's goal in an intense match against Trinidad and Tobago.
There have been speculative offers from the Major League Soccer association in the United States beckoning Beckham to come and play for one of its clubs. This strategy is seen as a way to revitalize the game in the States, as other "retiring" Los Galacticos such as Zidane, Figo, and Raúl, as well as Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved have been invited to play for MLS teams upon retirement. There have also been other wild speculations in English newspapers that Beckham is wanted by Newcastle United.
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". Although McClaren claimed Beckham could be recalled in future, most now believe his international career is over, after 94 caps. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kieran Richardson and the World Cup alternative to Beckham Aaron Lennon were all included, and are likely to compete for what was Beckham's place on the right-wing in future.
In 1997, David Beckham started dating Victoria Adams, member of the pop music group Spice Girls widely known as "Posh Spice", and their relationship attracted a great deal of media interest.
David married Adams at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on 4 July 1999. The wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham's teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple's son Brooklyn, then four months old, 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.
The Beckhams, who came to be known almost universally as "Posh and Becks", have three sons: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born 4 March 1999), Romeo James Beckham (1 September 2002) and Cruz David Beckham (20 February 2005).
In an April 3, 2006 interview with The Daily Mail, Beckham admitted to suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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 had been famous in her own right as part of the musical group Spice Girls, contributed towards him becoming a major celebrity outside of football. Because of this connection, Beckham has been dubbed "Spiceman" by the Spanish press. His ex-bodyguard Delfin Fernandez nicknamed him The Eagle for his extraordinary ability to see small objects from a great distance.
David Beckham's name was searched for on Google more than that of any other sporting personality in 2003 and 2004.
Beckham has supported UNICEF since his days at Manchester United and in January 2005 the England Football Captain became a Goodwill Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF's Sports for Development programme.
David Beckham's mansion in Hertfordshire is where he recently hosted the "World Cup Party - Full Length and Fabulous", raising money for three charities including the Beckhams' own charity. Over 500 of the richest and most famous faces in England turned up.
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