David Robert Joseph Beckham OBE (born May 2, 1975) is an English footballer born in Leytonstone, London. He is a midfielder for Real Madrid and captain of the English national team. He is noted for the quality of his crossing and ability to hit free-kicks and corners, particularly at long-range free-kicks and also for his marriage to a Spice Girl. He has played most of his career for Manchester United. Although there are arguably many better current players in world football none are as famous.
Manchester United 1995-2003
Beckham first signed a YTS (youth training scheme) contract (this is similar to an apprenticeship) with United in 1991, and made his League debut in 1995, aged 19. The next year he helped the side to the Premiership and FA Cup trophies and to their dominance of domestic football. In the 1998-99 season, he was part of the United team that won the "treble" - Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, a feat unprecedented in English football, which earned the club's manager, Alex Ferguson, a knighthood.
In total, Beckham scored 86 goals in 397 games for Man United, a rate of roughly 2 goals every 9 games, highly commendable for a midfielder.
Real Madrid 2003-present
On June 17, 2003, Beckham signed a four-year contract with Real Madrid of Spain, potentially worth up to €35 million (£25 million, USD 41 million). Plus 2.
Apart from benefiting from his football ability, this transfer gives the Spanish club an opportunity to profit from merchandising, especially in the Far East, where Beckham is enormously popular, and Manchester United have until now had the lion's share of interest. It is probably no coincidence that Beckham was transferred just before Real started a far-eastern tour, but it would be very unfair to say that his marketing potential alone was the only reason for his transfer. At the time of the announcement of his transfer to Real Madrid, Beckham and his wife (Victoria) were on a week-long tour of Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand promoting beauty products, chocolate, motor oil, and mobile phones, which it was reported would earn them more than the entire first year of his Real Madrid contract. (Western journalists are excluded from the Japanese "press conferences" organised by his sponsors because of the embarrassment they would cause him in the West.)
He successfully completed the transfer on July 1 and was presented with the squad number of 23 on July 2. He is believed to have chosen the number as a tribute to his idol, Michael Jordan, who made number 23 famous with the Chicago Bulls. Real Madrid shirts bearing his name and number were sold out in Madrid on the day his transfer was completed and Real Madrid were expected to receive €624,000 for the sale of the shirts.
His transfer to Real Madrid has proven very fruitful for both Beckham and the club. Beckham scored five times in his first 16 matches (including Real's 600th goal in the European Cup/Champions League, against Olympique Marseille on 26 November 2003), a higher scoring rate than his last year at Manchester United (11 goals in 52 games). He has become a favourite of the notoriously fickle Real Madrid crowd, and established an excellent playing relationship with Ronaldo.
During the summer of 2004, Real also signed Englishmen Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate.
International Career - England
By 1998 he was a regular international, and travelled with the England squad to the FIFA World Cup. In the second round of that competition he received a red-card for retaliation, following a foul challenge by the Argentine Diego Simeone. This act arguably cost England the game (which they lost on penalties) and the chance of advancing in the tournament. On returning home, Beckham became the target of criticism, sometimes justified (the accusation of petulance, for example) but much merely gratuitous. He received a similar vilification following his dismissal for a...