Manchester United 1991-2003
Beckham first signed a YTS (youth training scheme) contract (this is similar to an apprenticeship) with Manchester United in 1991, and made his League debut in 1995, aged 19. The next year he came to wider public notice when playing against Wimbledon; having spotted the opposition goalkeeper, Neil Sullivan, had come forward off his line, he kicked a lob from the halfway line that went over the keeper into the net. As the controversial Eric Cantona was suspended for a large part of the 1995-96 season due to an assault on a spectator Beckham became the focus of the Manchester United marketing effort and 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. Beginning with the 2001-02 season the relationship between Ferguson and Beckham began to deteriorate though the factors contributing to this had less to do with Beckham's performance on the pitch and more to do with the continual pressures of agents and sponsors and a continuous series of leaked stories apparently originating from Victoria Beckham. This conflict reached a peak during the 2002-3 season with 'The Battle of the Boot' when after losing a match to Arsenal an enraged Fergusson reportedly castigated team members in the dressing room and then kicked a football boot that struck Beckham over the eye requiring stitches. After this episode transfer stories appearing to originate with Victoria were rife, linking Beckham with Chelsea and Barcelona. Beckham's last match for Manchester United was the final league match against Everton at Goodison Park in which he scored the winner, his last act as a player was lifting the Barclay's Premiership trophy at the match's conclusion. 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).
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.
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...