Beginning his major sports journey in the youth reserve team of Manchester United, alongside other young players that would go onto become heavyweights like Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, David Beckham quickly established himself as a talented and versatile midfielder. Beckham has represented England in several World Cups, played for both Spain and America after leaving Man U, and signed some mind-bogglingly expensive brand deals as his profile rose in the sporting world. Here's a look back on Beckham's remarkable career in photos.
1990s: Young Beckham at a Man Utd film screening
Beckham grew up in London a football-obsessed household, with Manchester United being the favorite team of his parents Sandra and Ted, also passing that love down to their son.
He began playing for teams at a young age, telling W Magazine playing football was "the only thing I ever wanted to do." He first enrolled in the legendary team's training program at the age of 14, and was even once a Man U mascot for one game against West Ham in 1986.
1992: FA Youth Cup Champs
After a stint playing for the youth team the Brimsdown Rovers, Beckham signed as a trainee with Manchester United in 1991, where he'd represent their youth team until 1994. He had a strong performance out of the gate, and alongside his team members took Man Utd to an FA Youth Cup win. Beckham scored the second goal of their 3-1 first leg win.
1994: Two youth league Trophies
Beckham had already won two impressive championships in his first three years. Man U lost to Leeds United in the finals in 1993, but won the FA Youth Cup again in 1994. Beckham was officially signed as a professional Manchester United player in 1993, and after he finished his youth career, Beckham joined the club Preston North End on loan from Man U to get some first-team experience.
1996: Scoring against Chelsea
Beckham played four matches for Man Utd in 1995, but began to really draw attention the following year. On the opening day of the Premier League in August of 1996, Beckham scored an epic 57-yard goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon and quickly established himself as a first-choice player in the team's lineup.
1996: Celebrating with Eric Cantona
Beckham celebrates a goal he just scored against Derby County. Here he's seen alongside legendary player Eric Cantona, known affectionately as "King Eric" by fans of Manchester United. Beckham would go onto inherit Cantona's iconic No. 7 jersey when Cantona retired in 1997.
1997: Beckham in Training
Taking a break while training with Team England for his debut FIFA World Cup appearance. And honestly, he's rocking the bowl cut.
1997: Winning Young Player of the Year
Beckham won this title from the Professional Footballer's Association, which decides its winners through member votes. That meant this recognition was extra special since it came from Beckham's peers in the sport.
1997: Clashing with Italy
Beckham getting yanked by Italian player Demetrio Albertini during a World Cup qualifier match at Wembley Stadium, which Italy eventually won 1-0. Both teams eventually made it to the tournament, however.
1998: Posh and Becks Beginnings
Beckham is pictured here with Victoria Adams (now Beckham), cementing their power couple status as the soccer player and pop star announce their engagement.
1998: Collaboration with Adidas
Beckham began his longtime partnership with sportswear brand Adidas in 1998 with his own custom shoes. He has been featured in several great commercials by the brand, and signed a hefty $160 million lifetime contract with them in 2003. He has tons of endorsement deals to his name now, but Adidas was an early investor that helped spread his image and recognition beyond English football fans.
1998: First World Cup
Here's Beckham (middle row, look for the bright blond hair), with his teammates and the full staff of Team England. Unfortunately, Beckham and the England team lost in the second round of the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Argentina in a penalty shoot-out.
1998: Beckham bending it at the World Cup
Even though they didn't last long in the tournament, Beckham scored a standout goal that raised his profile. In England's first-round match against Colombia, Beckham scored the second goal of their 2-0 win with an impressive bending shot from a free kick.
1999: Lounging with the FA Cup
Beckham is no stranger to trophies even at this young age. As a part of Manchester United, Beckham won two FA Cups, six Premier League titles and one Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Championships League.
2000: Celebrating a goal with Phil Neville
You gotta give it to Footballers, they're never afraid to hug it out when the ball hits the net. Beckham remains close friends with his Man Utd teammates from this period and the youth team days, including Phil Neville pictured here.
2000: Taking a lap with son Brooklyn
Posh and Becks have had four children, and here is Beckham with their oldest son Brooklyn as a wee toddler at a match against Tottenham Hotspur.
2001: Yellow-carded at UEFA
Beckham was not an oft-disciplined player through much of his career. Besides a few standout red cards, like when he kicked Argentinian Player Diego Simeone's leg in the 1998 FIFA World Cub, Beckham was not known for fouling often at all.
2002: Taking it easy after an injury
Beckham fractured his ankle and foot in 2002 and had to take 48 days off to recover. He avoided any major injuries for most of the decade, and then suffered a more severe Achilles tendon rupture, which led to an 180 day break, and caused Beckham to have to sit out of England's matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
2003: Beckham's last game with Man U
Beckham celebrates a goal against Everton with Roy Keane. He ended his time with the legendary team on a high note by winning the FA Premiership trophy in a 2-1 victory.
2003: Beckham joins Real Madrid
Stretching with Luis Figo before a Spanish Super Cup match against Real Mallorca. Beckham played for Real Madrid from 2003-2007.
2004: Team England Captain
Beckham continued to play for Team England internationally, and began serving in a leadership role as its captain. He amassed a total of 58 appearances as part of the team over his career.
2005: Premiering a Pepsi advert with J.Lo and Beyoncé
If you're wondering why Beckham's on a stage with Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, they all banded together for this wildly elaborate commercial set in cyberpunk-styled city.
2007: Winning La Liga with Real Madrid
One of the crowning achievements from Beckham's Real Madrid days were when they beat Real Mallorca at La Liga, the top championship in the Spanish football league, in 2007.
2009: Hopping across the pond
Beckham signed with the Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy in 2007, immediately increasing interest in the often under-appreciated American soccer league.
2010: Playing against Manchester United
Beckham spent two loan periods playing for AC Milan while he was a Galaxy team member, which angered some LA fans. In this 2010 match, Beckham went against his old longtime team Manchester United, with the game ending 3-2 in favor of Man U.
2011: MLS Cup Champions
Oh, you thought Beckham was done winning trophies? Nope! Along with his Galaxy teammates, Beckham won the 2011 MLS Cup. He also won the title the following year in 2012, in what ended up being his final game with the Galaxy.
2012: Driving a speedboat for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony
Beckham was reportedly a member of the delegation who traveled to Singapore in 2005 and successfully campaigned to have London host the 2012 Summer Olympic games. Given that, and the fact that he's a British icon already, it makes sense that he had a big appearance in the opening ceremony.
2013: Beckham at his final game
Beckham signed with a final team, Paris Saint-Germain, for a five-month deal in January of 2013, later announcing that he would be retiring from pro football after the French Football season was over.
2016: With buddy Guy Ritchie
Beckham has a friendship with the legendary English director Guy Ritchie. His only acting appearances outside of commercials, and a couple of movies where he played himself, are cameos in Ritchie's films. He played a projectionist in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and had an even more involved speaking role in this scene from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
2018: From player to owner
Beckham has invested in a couple of football teams following his retirement. He is the co-owner and President of the MLS team Inter Miami CF, and co-owner the League Two team Salford City.
2020: He loves to play Legos until the wee hours
Beckham is clearly living the good life as a young retiree. While he continues to be active with his businesses, family and social media, the former footballer has also been taking time for fun. He told Jimmy Fallon that he has been building Lego structures since a young age, and the late night host gifted him a Lego set during the interview.
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