5/1/08

Becks bends it past 33


Tanvir Khan / zeenews.com

People generally tend to relate the name David Beckham with fashion. Someone who loves to sport tattoos on every inch of his skin and changes his hairstyle as often as the weather in London. It is often said that he is more of a socialite than a football star. All this is maybe because he is happily married to Spice Girls pop star Victoria Beckham and has three sons with her: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham, Romeo James Beckham and Cruz David Beckham. He has friends in Hollywood and a mansion beside that of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Beverly Hills.

David has appeared on innumerable magazine covers and is also associated with brands like Coca Cola and IBM. He was hailed as a metro sexual by the man who invented the term. Such is the popularity of Beckham that Google claimed that David Beckham was searched more than any other sports topic in 2003 and 2004. It is always easy to under estimate the player's abilities. His contribution to the game has more often than not been overshadowed by his activities off the field.

But those who have a tendency to associate Beckham to the realm of fashion only seem to have forgotten his contribution to the England national team as well as his club performances. David won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in only the second year after he debuted for England. Twice has he been the runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year. What has to be understood is that he is a football star who indulges in outdoor activities and not a socialite who occasionally plays football!

A few highlights of his career include his captaincy stint with Manchester United and 58 caps as skipper for the England team. He also became the first Brit player to appear in 100 Champions League matches. Despite playing regularly with Manchester United, David did not get a berth in the national squad before Euro 1996. He was part of a group of young players in Manchester United and got a chance with the Red Devils only when experienced players like Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis retired. Alex Ferguson, who has been with the club for more than two decades, drew a lot of criticism when he introduced young players in the club rather than buying million dollar stars from other clubs. The icing on the cake for the critics was the woeful start for the Reds. They lost 3-1 to Aston Villa. The only goal for Manchester being struck by Beckham.

Bend it like Bekham

David Beckham scored a spectacular goal from half-line in a match against Wimbledon FC in 1996. For those who witnessed the once in a lifetime goal, there is no need to explain. For those who did not, here is a quick recap - David saw that the keeper Neil Sullivan was a long way out of his position, slowed down until the ball was just on the half line, and bang! The ball actually changed course midair and hit the nets. That was skill, foresight, practice, training & timing. Nothing to do with `luck`. The commentator in the match rightly said that it was a goal that`ll be talked about and replayed for years.

The story behind David Beckham's number 7 shirt might not be known to many. Eric Cantonna, the demi-god of English football, wore the number 7 shirt for Manchester United. He retired on May 18, 1997. Teddy Sheringham was to arrive to United from Tottenham Hotspur. Beckham picked up the number 7 jersey and left the number 10 for Sheringham. Since then, number 7 in football has been assosiated with the free-kick maestro.

His personal life was rocked by rumours of extramarital affairs in 2004 in a British tabloid News of the World that published that he had a fling with Rebecca Loos, his former personal assistant. Later an Australian model, Sarah Marbeck, claimed that she had slept with David on two occassions. The marriage with Posh somehow survived, many believe due to their kids.

On the field, Beckham was hit by contrversy when he kicked Diego Simeone of Argentina on his calf and was shown a Red Card by the referee. It happened after Simeone had fouled David's moves which made him furious. This incident was in a match of the1998 World Cup which ended in a draw and England crashed out in penalties. David Beckham, thus, saw himself in deep trouble as his effigies were burnt and he received death calls.

His career span includes stints with Manchester United from 1993 to 2003 during which he donned 265 caps. He scored 65 goals for the Reds and set up innumerable others. His next halt was Real Madrid where he stayed for four seasons netting 13 goals. In 2007, he moved to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles and became the highest paid MLS player in their history.

His move to LA Galaxy, undoubtedly, popularised the sport in America. Although he has not scored many goals for the club, he has helped in setting up quite a lot of them. His stint with LA Galaxy has not been very good as far as his fitness is concerned. He has been fighting it all to gain cent per cent fitness and get back on the pitch for the American club.

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