David Beckham retires: football world reacts and pays tribute

The former England captain has called time on his career

Former England manager Steve McClaren hailed David Beckham as a great of the modern game after the former national team captain announced his retirement.

Beckham, who was instantly dropped when McClaren inherited the England job from Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2006, is to quit the game at the end of the season.

He bows out as a Ligue 1 winner with Paris St Germain, with the 38-year-old deciding the time is right to step away from his illustrious playing career.

Beckham eventually won over McClaren in their England days, earning a recall.

And McClaren said today: "He was a great player.

"He made the very most of his talents through sheer hard work and professionalism and always doing extra work on the training field.

"He inspired his team-mates through his performances.

"He was a winner, he's won so many things in his career, and that was infectious on his team-mates.

"And he was an inspiring personality to young players with his behaviour and professionalism on and off the field.

"But ultimately he was a leader and people followed him.

"The young players followed him in how he played and in his personality, and even off the field the young players of today are following him through his fashion."

McClaren told Sky Sports News: "By the end of his career he was a fantastic ambassador, not only for football around the world but for our country as well in helping bring major events to this country."

Beckham had a role in bringing the Olympic Games to London, but it will be his footballing feats for Manchester United, Real Madrid, PSG, LA Galaxy and AC Milan for which he will be remembered.

"He has been very special in that right midfield position," McClaren said.

"He was an unbelievable passer, crosser of the ball, and he could score goals as well.

"My lasting memory of David Beckham is him continuously being the last off the training pitch and always practising those trademark free-kicks."

Beckham won 115 caps for England, more than any other outfield player.

But on the big stage, England repeatedly struggled to achieve, falling in quarter-finals at World Cups in 2002 and 2006 and Euro 2004.

"Because he was a big part of that, he was very frustrated by that," said McClaren.

Beckham's former Manchester United team-mate and long-time friend Gary Neville is in Paris, having travelled to meet Beckham.

He discussed the midfielder's decision with him and was able to offer some insight into his thinking.

"He just feel it's the right time," Neville told Sky Sports News.

"He just feels he's taken it as far as he can. He wanted to come back home, he's been away for 22 years and he's got to the end of the road.

"He's won another championship at PSG, that's four in four countries, and he just wants to come home."

Neville also paid tribute to the way Beckham has not only influenced football but also transcended it.

"You look at it and think 'wow', he's got an incredible array of caps and medals, an incredible longevity," said Neville.

"He played in the greatest midfield I've ever played with: David, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. David was a crosser of the ball, a passer of the ball. He had incredible stamina and energy. He was a joy to play with.

"And when you think back on the way football has changed over the last 22 years, he has probably been the most influential player in that time out of England in terms of transforming football.

"In leaving the country, to Milan, LA, Paris, he has transported England around the world and that's something he was aware of and wanted to do.

"Every clothing garment he wore, every hairstyle was followed - not just in football but out of football.

"That's why you see him working as an ambassador for the Olympics."

England manager Roy Hodgson acknowledges that Beckham's level of global celebrity could lead to opportunities in a variety of different fields, but hopes he remains active within the game.

"I wish him well in the future whatever he chooses to do and I personally hope that will be in football," Hodgson told Sky Sports News.

"David is a man of many talents and a lot of people now will be wanting him for different jobs and roles, some of which could take him away from us in football.

"But I'm rather hoping we'll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player."

Hodgson also revealed that Beckham, despite not being involved as an international player under Hodgson, had been in contact with him to wish the side well.

He added: "In David Beckham England have a very big fan and a very great supporter."

Football Association chairman David Bernstein praised Beckham for his on- and off-field efforts for English football.

A statement carried by the FA's official website read: "It is quite amazing that in a week when Sir Alex Ferguson has retired that we now have David Beckham, another great of the game, ending his unique and hugely successful playing career.

"I would like to pay tribute to David for his outstanding contribution to English football. He has been such a great ambassador for the game at home and abroad and was a tremendous performer for his clubs and England.

"David always played with the greatest passion and became an iconic figure in our national game.

"I am sorry to see him go but wish him and his family very well in his retirement. I am sure he will have so much to give back to the game in future, whatever he chooses to do."

Former Manchester United star Gordon McQueen suggested that Beckham's best days were spent with the Red Devils, despite his continued success at Real Madrid, AC Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy and most recently Paris St Germain.

He told Sky Sports News: "I felt that for the last three or four years possibly he's been a global celebrity superstar and it's not been about football. I think his career was on the slide when he left Manchester United; I know he went to Madrid and did alright and won the league, but when he went to America it was the beginning of the end."

Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose tenure as England manager between 2001 and 2006 coincided with some of Beckham's best years, not to mention his captaincy, told BBC Radio Five Live: "He is a fantastic footballer and a fantastic person. All over the world you say 'David Beckham' and people know who that is.

"I don't think any other football player is more popular than he."

Meanwhile, a Downing Street spokesman gave Prime Minister David Cameron's verdict.

"The Prime Minister's view is that David Beckham has been an outstanding footballer throughout his career, but not only that, he has been a brilliant ambassador for this country, not least if we remember all the work he did on helping us win London 2012," said the spokesman.

"The Prime Minister's message would simply be to say: congratulations on a fantastic career."

AC Milan, who signed Beckham twice on loan during the Major League Soccer off-season, posted a statement of thanks to the player on their official website.

The club acknowledged that his initial arrival was not universally deemed to be good business, but praised his contribution at the San Siro.

"His arrival at the club may have been greeted with some skepticism but his performances as a player quickly won over the non-believers," it read.

"Two goals against Genoa and Bologna as well as 29 appearances with AC Milan helped the team towards two Champions League qualifications.

"Thank you and good luck from all the fans and everyone at the club to David Beckham."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on