Beckham to retire at end of the season

England's best known footballer David Beckham announced his retirement on Thursday after a career laden with trophies and glamour that had a worldwide impact that went way beyond football.

The 38-year-old former England captain, who this month helped Paris Saint-Germain to the French league title to add to titles won in England, Spain and the United States, will hang up his boots at the end of this season.

"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," the midfielder said in a statement.

"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 earned 115 caps for England, a record for an outfield player, and won the Champions League, six Premier League titles and two FA Cups with Manchester United.

He also won league titles with Real Madrid in Spain, LA Galaxy in the United States and PSG in France.

The London-born Beckham started his career at Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, making his first team appearance at the age of 17 in 1992.

His trade-mark free-kicks and pin-point crosses established him as a key player, while his good looks made him a pin-up for teenage girls and later his marriage to former Spice Girls band member Victoria Adams established him as an off-field celebrity.

While his commercial appeal kept growing and his friendships with Hollywood A listers grew, his main passion of football - and in particular England - held firm.

"To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country," Beckham said.

"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.


"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 100 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," said Beckham.

After a decade at Old Trafford, where he won six Premier League titles, he left for a four-year spell at Real Madrid where he won La Liga in his final season.

He then crossed the Atlantic in 2007 to become the biggest name soccer import in the United States, joining LA Galaxy with a mission to raise the profile of the sport in the country.

He won the MLS championship twice with the Galaxy before moving to Paris in January for what turned out to be his last hurrah.

There he demonstrated one of his other sides as his salary was paid to a children's charity in the French capital.

Away from football, underwear modelling and ambassadorial roles, Beckham is known as a family man and thanked those closest to him for what they had done for him.

"I wouldn't have achieved what I have done today without my family," he said.

"I'm grateful for my parents' sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams. I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period."

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