David Beckham admits criticism of celebrity lifestyle hurts

The former England captain has announced he is retiring

David Beckham admitted he had been hurt by criticism of his celebrity status as he announced his retirement from football.

The 38-year-old will follow his old mentor Sir Alex Ferguson into retirement after a stellar 21-year career that has seen him win league titles in four countries - at Manchester United, Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy and this season at Paris St Germain.

Beckham, England's most capped outfield player, said it had always been his dream to call it a day while he was still at the top and hoped people would focus on his footballing achievements.

He told Sky Sports News: "Over the years people have obviously looked at other things that have gone on in my career and sometimes that's overshadowed what I've done on the pitch.

"As much as I say that doesn't hurt me, of course it does.

"At the end of the day I'm a footballer who has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, with some of the best players in the world, and under some of the biggest and best managers, and achieved almost everything in football.

"It hurts when people not question it, but think about other things.

"I hope people will remember me as a hard-working footballer, someone who was passionate about the game and someone that gave everything that they have, because that's how I feel."

Beckham will bring the curtain down on his remarkable playing career at the end of the season - PSG have two matches remaining.

Beckham added: "It's every athlete's dream, it's every footballer's dream to go out on top form or winning a trophy. It doesn't happen that often.

"I've been lucky: when I left United we won the league, when I left Madrid we won the league, leaving Galaxy after winning the championship there and then coming here (Paris) and winning the league.

"It's nice to go out like that, it's written, it's simple."

Beckham made his debut for Manchester United in 1992, winning six league titles and the Champions League before moving to Real Madrid and then Los Angeles Galaxy, plus loan spells at AC Milan.

He made his England debut in 1996 and would go on to be the Three Lions' most capped outfield player with 115 appearances. He was the first English player to score in three consecutive World Cups.

Beckham will spend the next few months considering numerous different offers before deciding on his next big move.

He already has a number of contracts as an ambassador plus other lucrative endorsement deals, and he has demonstrated his value to a number of causes - not least in helping secure the 2012 Olympics for London.

One definite long-term aim will be to own a franchise in Major League Soccer in the United States - the current fee to buy in is US dollars 40million but Beckham has made it clear that he will pursue that avenue.

There are certain to be offers from the Football Association for Beckham to become an ambassador for the English game - FA chairman David Bernstein spoke yesterday about the wish to form a "close association" with him, and England manager Roy Hodgson said he hoped he would stay "close to the game".

PA

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