It’s easy to look beyond David Beckham as a footballer and associate him solely with glamour, advertising or just being a pretty face. There’s a reason that Beckham was – and perhaps still is – the most recognisable footballer in the world; his ability with a football.
Playground rules dictate that kids pretend to be a footballer when participating in a kick-around and Beckham was always the player I imitated. Not because of his diverse hairstyles or the elaborate tattoos, merely the fact he is a fantastic player.
Will we ever see a player like Beckham again? In the modern game wingers are generally pacey. Just look at the England squad and the players contesting for the right midfield spot are: Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott. They all have one identical attribute; pace. Beckham has not had to alter his game since entering his thirties because he has never had the luxury of speed.
He is something of a rare breed, a technical player who differentiates from the norm of wingers because he has an end product. What would have been intriguing is how he would have turned out if he had played in his favoured position in the centre of midfield.
For years the Old Trafford faithful saw the number seven consistently produce inch perfect crosses to forwards such as Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Ruud van Nistelrooy, score stupendous free-kicks, lob the keeper from inside his own half or assist from corners.
These vast array of talents are not natural, Beckham has spent years practising hard and staying after training to make sure he would improve. As his mentor Sir Alex Ferguson says of him, “David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate.”
His International reputation may have taken a dent from the criticism he has got from some sections of the media – one Henry Winter labelling him the “cameo king” after his substitute appearances late in matches, yet 115 matches in 14 years shows how dedicated he is to his country.
While some players may opt for operations when friendly’s are approaching, Beckham worked hard in America and showed dedication in undertaking long-distance travelling to still be a part of the three lions camp. His persistence has rewarded him with the honour of being England’s highest capped outfield player.
Since leaving Manchester success has been sparse, but he will always be remembered for being part of that amazing treble-winning squad of 1999, that being symbolised by the incredible reception he received when he returned in March for a Champions League tie with AC Milan.
International success aside, Beckham has achieved all of his career ambitions and, perhaps when he retires, he may come to be regarded as highly as his boyhood idol; Bryan Robson.
With his career coming to an end I hope people will remember that, first and foremost, David Beckham is a footballer, and a very good one at that.