Thanks for the memories, Becks
I grew up watching my dad watching him play for Manchester United. It was quite emotional seeing him in tears walking off the pitch. Another era's ending. Thanks, big guy, for the good times.
We could rattle off a list of all the achievements that David Beckham has won throughout the course of his career, but the truth is, you already know. From the free kicks to the H&M advertisements, David Beckham quickly became an ever-present, unrelenting force in sports and style, one of the first footballers to be embraced and recognized on such a global scale. And while some may maintain a cynical perspective on the trajectory Beckham’s career took, we here at AFR HQ will always remember his ability to transform a monotonous, insignificant match, into a spectacle.
As Becks hangs up his boots, here are some thoughts from the people who knew him best, his peers.
“David was different - he was a crosser of the ball, a passer of the ball, he was a joy to play with… He has probably been the most influential player out of England in transforming football. The impact he has had is enormous.” - Gary Neville
“On the pitch, Beckham sees everything before everyone else.” - Carlo Ancelotti
“A phenomenon … the image he has is totally different to what he is really like as a player and a person.” - Luis Figo
“David is such a great competitor and he was questioning his move to the United States and we were fortunately able to turn it around, and all I’ll say is that it is a tribute to David’s presence on and off the field. My four years working with him is one of the great honors of my life. I found him to be a player with incredible skills on the field as we all know, one of the greatest passers that the game has ever seen. Just a great personality and incredible competitor, who did wonderful things for our club and our game.” - Bruce Arena
“I remember watching him when he was 18 playing for Manchester United and you knew then that he had something special. He made the game look simple and he had a different style about him to anybody else.” - Glenn Hoddle
“He is a nice guy, has a beautiful wife, has won so many trophies in his career and perhaps this penalises him as a player although I believe he has the feet and the determination.” - Daniele De Rossi
“Beckham is a player I like very much both for his technique and the way he thinks. He is a man who always wants to win.” - Fabio Cannavaro
“The image of him celebrating with his sons on the pitch [after Madrid won the title in 2007] stays with me. He had such a massive desire to win something with Real Madrid. It was one of his most difficult years with him being left out of the England team but he demonstrated in the last three months of the season what a great player he is.” - Raul
“I don’t know how he manages to be so at ease outwardly on the pitch. He is almost a pop star. I couldn’t do that. It is incredible, especially given that he is as timid as me….When he came to Real, he was worried about what the team thought of him. In his integration, he worried about everything that was said about him in the media, and that it would constitute a problem for his performances. But on the pitch, he has great technique and shows the combativeness typical of English players.” - Zinedine Zidane
“I was in the England squad when he made his debut against Moldova in 1996 and while his work-rate is phenomenal, I can safely say he’s the best at set-pieces that I’ve seen by a mile. In that 6-3 game, he scored a superb free-kick bent into the top corner even though we had a man on the post. I just thought, “Oh my God”…” - Matthew Le Tissier