Final whistle for David Beckham as world's most famous footballer announces retirement

David Beckham, perhaps the world’s most recognised sports star, has announced his retirement, saying that he is going out “at the top”.

Final whistle for David Beckham as world's most famous footballer announces retirement

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 17 May 2013

David Beckham, perhaps the world's most recognised sports star, has announced his retirement, saying that he is going out "at the top".

The 38-year-old announced he was quitting football after winning the French league, bringing his career total of major trophies to 19, including league victories in four countries and the UEFA Champions League.

Off the field, Beckham is as famous for his celebrity lifestyle, pop star and fashion designer wife Victoria Beckham and a string of product endorsements that helped him to amass a reported £165 million fortune.

He joked that he knew it was time to retire when he saw Lionel Messi run past him.

"Over the years, when I've seen players retire, when you ask them about it, they always say you'll know when you're ready. I think I'm ready," Beckham said. "It's a difficult decision, because I still feel that I can play at the top level, and still have done for the past six months. But I always secretly said to myself that I want to go out at the top."

The East Londoner became a household name as a 21-year-old Manchester United player when he stunned Wimbledon with a lobbed goal from behind the halfway line.

He went on to win six titles and the Champions League with Manchester United, while becoming England's most capped outfield player with 115 appearances for his country, second overall behind goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and the only English footballer to score in three World Cups.

But his celebrity lifestyle was the alleged cause of a rift with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, including a famous incident when a boot kicked by Ferguson hit Beckham above the eye.

Eventually, he left for Real Madrid in 2003 for a €35 million fee. There he won one league title before a transfer in 2007 to Los Angeles Galaxy, which prompted 11,000 new season ticket sales and earned the team two Major League Soccer titles.

Beckham has also been influential outside of the world of football, playing an important role in Britain's bid to land the 2012 Olympic Games.

As for the future, it is unlikely he will leave football altogether. The FA has said it would like to offer him a role, he has an option to buy a stake in Los Angeles Galaxy and he may return to youth coaching, after closing the David Beckham Academy in Greenwich in 2009. And who would bet against a knighthood?

Questions for discussion or further research:

  • David Beckham is a role model to many. Do you admire him? Why/why not?
  • Beckham has decided to go out "at the top". Why do you think he made this choice?
  • It is a possibility that Beckham will receive a knighthood for his contributions to sport. What does this mean?
  • Do you think knighthoods are still relevant today? If so, how should it be decided who receives them?

Resources for you

Sesame Street meets David Beckham

  • Learn some top tips from David Beckham with the video from TES partner Sesame Street.

Are footballers good sporting role models?

  • Spark a debate on whether footballers are good sportsmen and women with this PowerPoint activity.

Football coaching flashcards

  • Get your students practicing their ball control, dribbling and goal keeping skills with these popular flashcards.

Design a football shirt

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