LONDON – David Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity.
The 38-year-old former England captain, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday he will quit after the season.
“It’s a good way to go out,” Beckham said in Paris. “It’s every athlete’s dream, every footballer’s dream to go out on the top – on top form or winning a trophy … leaving as a champion.”
Beckham, whose curling free kicks and pinpoint crosses became his signature as a player, has two more matches left at PSG – against Brest on Saturday and at Lorient on May 26. He has been giving his salary to a children’s charity.
Asked what led to his decision, Beckham replied with a laugh: “Probably when (Lionel) Messi was running past me in that home game,” referring to a match against Barcelona last month.
Beckham started his career with Manchester United and also played for Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning titles with all those clubs. He played on loan with AC Milan and made 115 appearances for his country, a record in England for someone other than a goalkeeper.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter described the midfielder as “one of the most iconic figures in global football.”
Beckham’s fame went beyond the field, with his haircuts and clothing scrutinized as often as his play, earning him a string of lucrative sponsorship deals.
“I am a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world and played with some of the best players in the world, played under some of the biggest and best managers and achieved almost everything in football,” Beckham said.
With United between 1992 and 2003, Beckham won six Premier League titles, the Champions League, two FA Cups and the Intercontinental Cup.
Beckham spent four years in Madrid – winning the 2007 Spanish title before moving to Major League Soccer, where he won the title twice.