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David Beckham announces retirement

ESPN staff
May 16, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England midfielder David Beckham has announced he will retire from professional football at the end of the season.

Beckham, 38, most recently enjoyed a six-month stint at French side Paris Saint-Germain, helping the club win the Ligue 1 title before deciding to step away from the game at the end of the current campaign.

"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 in a statement.

The right-sided midfielder earned 115 caps for England during his career - a record for an outfield player - while he also represented AC Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy at club level. In total he won 10 domestic titles in four different countries, also claiming the Champions League in 1999 before captaining his country at two World Cups and a European Championships.

Beckham announces his retirement

David Beckham is to retire © Getty Images
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "I wouldn't have achieved what I have done today without my family. I'm grateful for my parents' sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams. I want to thank all my team-mates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from. I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed."
  • - David Beckham

PSG had offered him a one-year extension to remain in the French capital, but Beckham instead opted to end a career that began when he joined Manchester United as a 14-year-old schoolboy after catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson's staff.

Beckham added: "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.

"To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country. I knew every time I wore the Three Lions shirt, I was not only following in a long line of great players, I was also representing every fan that cared passionately about their country.

"I'm honoured to represent England both on and off the pitch ... I want to thank all my team-mates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from. I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed."

Beckham made his debut for United, the team he supported as a child, in 1992 after graduating out of the club's academy and winning the FA Youth Cup as part of a much-vaunted side that also included future team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.

During his 11 years as a professional at Old Trafford, Beckham won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League in 1999, putting in the corners which led to both of his team's late goals in the dramatic 2-1 final victory over Bayern Munich.

However, after falling out with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson he was sold to Real Madrid in 2003, where he played alongside legendary players such as Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Luis Figo.

Beckham had to wait until the last of his four years at the Santiago Bernabeu before winning the league title, after which he shocked the world by announcing he would be moving to the United States to join MLS franchise LA Galaxy.

Beckham used his worldwide fame to boost interest in football in the US, and he helped the Galaxy claim the MLS Cup in 2011 and retain the title a year later.

Beckham had spent two short loan stints at AC Milan during his five years in the US before, after a short time out of the game, he joined PSG on a short-term deal in January.

Beckham's final match as a professional is set to be on May 26 at the unlikely setting of Lorient's Stade du Moustoir, where PSG play their final game of the Ligue 1 season. He will then concentrate on his various commercial interests outside the sport, with a desire to get involved in more charitable work.

He added: "Nothing will ever completely replace playing the game I love. However, I feel like I'm starting a new adventure and I'm genuinely excited about what lies ahead.

"I'm fortunate to have been given many opportunities throughout my career and now I feel it's my time to give back."

David Beckham had many fantastic moments during his career © Getty Images
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