Soccer Superstar David Beckham to Retire
David Beckham, the soccer star and one of the most famous athletes in the world, announced his retirement from the sport Thursday.
'I think I'm ready, ' said the 38-year-old Beckham, arguably the world's most famous active athlete, in an interview with Sky Sports in Paris on Thursday. 'Obviously, it's a difficult decision because I still feel like I can play at the top level and still have done over the last six months. But I always particularly said to myself that I want to go out at the top.'
Beckham's career will last two more games, concluding with Paris Saint-Germain's home game against Brest on Saturday and its trip to Lorient next week. The price of tickets for Saturday's game had already tripled by Thursday afternoon, according to the Internet ticket resale site Viagogo. The cheapest ones on Viagogo for Lorient were already $250.
Beckham is ending his career after helping his two most recent teams win championships. The Los Angeles Galaxy won its second consecutive Major League Soccer title with him last fall. Then he spent the spring playing for Paris Saint-Germain, which won France's Ligue 1.
Beckham also played important minutes for PSG during its Champions League games, proving to much of the soccer world that he still had some gas in his tank and could help a major club after spending six years playing in the far less competitive MLS.
A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the British leader viewed Beckham as an 'outstanding footballer throughout his career. But not only that, he has been a brilliant ambassador for this country not least if we remember all the work he did in helping us win London 2012. The prime minister's message would simply be to say congratulations on a fantastic career.'
The decision didn't come without some angst. 'I'll always feel like I could do more, ' Beckham said. 'That's the problem.'
While he was never a prolific goal scorer, Beckham became known as an other-worldly passer who could put a ball on a sprinting wing's feet from 60 yards away. A native of Leytonstone, Beckham was a product of the Manchester United youth academy and broke into the senior team in 1994. He won over a dozen major trophies over the next nine years.
His perfectly aimed set pieces also earned him accolades, though perhaps not as many as the runway good looks. Already a world-wide sports star, he became a crossover phenomenon with the release of the 2002 comedy film 'Bend It Like Beckham, ' in which a British-born Indian girl dreams of playing with her hero.
Though only his image appears in the movie, the film made Beckham as popular in Hollywood and New York as he was in Europe, and since then his image has been used to sell everything from watches to underwear. In 2007 he moved to MLS in a groundbreaking deal to help the struggling U.S. league establish credibility. The exposure and his marriage to Victoria Adams, also known as the pop star Posh Spice, turned him into a lightning rod for criticism of whether he was more interested in fame than sport.
At the international level, Beckham made 115 appearances for England and had a stint as the side's captain. His last major tournament was the 2006 World Cup.
A true global icon, Beckham recently signed on as an ambassador for China's professional soccer league and will be making his second trip of the year there soon.