David Beckham announces his retirement from playing football after a 20-year career that has seen him play for England, Manchester United, Real Madrid, L.A Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris St Germain, whilst created a brand worth £175 million.
I recently read a book called Embracing Uncertainty by Susan Jeffers when I came across an exercise that required you to write down all of the heroes that have inspired you throughout your life. I put pen to paper and for the next 30-minutes and looked down to see that I had only scribbled down one name – David Beckham.
After a 20-year career that has seen the man from Leytonstone . East London, transcend the game that he loves so dearly, David Beckham has followed his former manager, mentor and boot kicker, Sir Alex Ferguson into the doldrums of retirement. The whole world is about to go David Beckham crazy, and rightly so, because he has become so much more than simply a professional footballer. He is one of the most famous sportsmen in the world.
During an interview with his best friend, and former Manchester United fullback Gary Neville, Beckham joked that he knew it was the right moment to call time on his playing career after Lionel Messi kept running rings around him during the recent Champions League encounter between Paris St Germain and Barcelona. In truth, the thought of Lionel Messi running passed David Beckham is one you would have seen during the OBE winner’s better days. Pace was never an attribute that was passed down to him from his father Ted, but it was an attribute he never needed. Former England Captain, Alan Shearer, said, ‘David Beckham just needed to step two yards to his right and swing that right boot. If he did that from within 40-yards of the goal the defence was on red alert. I have never seen anyone with that ability – before or since.”
David Beckham was my hero because he was the archetypical example of the power of nurture in the classic nature versus nurture debate. I don’t believe David Beckham reached the summit of world football because of the genes he received from his parents Ted and Sandra. I believed he reached that summit because he worked harder, and smarter, than anyone else whilst taking grasp of the opportunities life afforded him with both hands. That belief inspires me because I have been that little kid kicking footballs into empty goalposts whilst nobody looked on. David Beckham may well have a £175 million empire but he is just a working class kid at heart.
The goal that he scored from the halfway line when playing for Manchester United against Wimbledon in 1997 still ranks as one of the best five goals I have ever seen in my life. The lad didn’t just lob the goalkeeper, he drove the ball into the back of the net with pace and power that few can match. It’s great to hear John Motson saying that Beckham was, “Surely an England player of the future?” After the ball hit the back of the net. Yes, John you got that right.