LONDON: Football megastar David Beckham announced on Thursday that he is to retire after a glittering 20-year playing career in which he became one of the most widely recognized figures in world sport.
The former England captain, 38, made the announcement shortly after winning the Ligue 1 title with French giants Paris Saint-Germain, which made him the first Englishman to win league championships in four different countries.
He bows out from the game at the same time as his former Manchester United mentor Alex Ferguson, who handed Beckham his professional debut in 1992.
Beckham went on to play for Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy and AC Milan, as well as PSG, and won 115 caps for England, an unprecedented feat for an outfield player.
“I’m thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level,” Beckham said.
“If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhood club, Manchester United, proudly captained and played for my country over one hundred times, and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy.
“I’m fortunate to have realised those dreams.”
Blessed with an extraordinarily accurate right foot, Beckham was renowned for his dead-ball prowess and his seemingly limitless reserves of stamina.
He won six league titles, two FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League with United, creating both injury-time goals as Ferguson’s side stormed back to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the final. He joined Madrid in 2003, where he won the Spanish league title four years later.
Beckham moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and won two MLS Cup titles with the Galaxy, but he spent two loan spells at Milan and then returned to Europe in January this year, when he signed a short-term deal with PSG.
As an England player, he captained his country for six years and played at three World Cups.
He is due to play his final game for PSG at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir on May 26.