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David Beckham

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| David Beckham | Leisure in American Society |

2/26/2013 |

David Beckham is one of Britain's most iconic athletes whose name is also an elite global advertising brand. He was captain of the English national team from 1998 to 2009, scored in three different FIFA World Cups, and played midfield for clubs in Manchester, England, Madrid, Spain, and Milan, Italy; he also won the MLS Cup playing for Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011 and 2012. He was born David Robert Joseph Beckham on May 2, 1975, in Leytonstone, East London, England; son of Ted Beckham, a kitchen fitter, and Sandra West, a hairdresser. Beckham's maternal grandfather is Jewish, and he has been mentioning the religion as influence; he wears a tattoo written in Hebrew from the 'Song of Songs' in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), although he is not known to practice Judaism or any other faith. Beckham has always played in long sleeve shirts to cover up his tattoos in consideration of others who may feel uncomfortable due to their beliefs. He was brought up by his parents, supporters of Manchester United, attended Bobby Charlton's football school in Manchester, and won a spot in a training session at FC Barcelona as a child. In 1986 he was a Manchester United's mascot for a match against West Ham United. From 1992 - 2003 Beckham made almost 400 appearances for Manchester United and scored 85 goals, although his official record counts only 62 goals in 265 official senior team's matches. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup he played all of England's qualifying matches and scored in several important victories. He received a red card for violent conduct in England's match against Argentina, although his opponent later admitted to trying to send Beckham off by over-reacting to their contact during the game and by urging the referee to send Beckham off. After losing the game England was eliminated, Beckham was made a scapegoat and became the target of criticism and abuse in media. He had a good season in 1999 - 2000 and helped Manchester United to win the Premier League. At that time, he married singer Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) from the popular musical group The Spice Girls, and the couple had their first son, Brooklyn, born in 1999. That same year, Beckham was given a permission to miss training routine, in order to look after his son Brooklyn, who suffered from a stomach infection. Meanwhile, the Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, fined Beckham £50,000 (about $80,000 then) the maximum amount that was permitted, for babysitting with his sick child, while his wife was spotted at a London fashion Week event on the same night. Ferguson's claim that Beckham should be able to train if his wife stayed home that day caused a serious personal tension between two men. In February 2003, following the defeat to Arsenal, the Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson entered the changing room and kicked a football boot that struck Beckham over the eye, causing a cut that required stitches. This move most likely lead to his decision to leave Manchester United. David Beckham has been a good scorer and a major attraction for public. On the field he has been demonstrating his consistent ability to see a big picture even under severe pressure during the most rapidly changing and unpredictable games. His field vision has been remarkable, allowing him to create many assists in a number of important matches. Beckham's forte has been his delivery from the right-hand side as well as his efficient free kicks. His superior performances in the midfield position have required a higher physical endurance through the entire game. "David Beckham's right foot" was mentioned, although humorously, as one of British national treasures in the movie Love Actually (2003). There was also another movie made in “honor” of David Beckham, Bend it Like Beckham (2002), which tells the story of two female footballers who are trying to make it in the football world. The phrase “Bend it like Beckham” refers to the tremendous curve/spin Beckham puts on the ball when he takes a free kick. He signed a four-year contract with Real Madrid, beginning on July 1, 2003, and worth a potential 40 million dollars. In Madrid, Beckham was not allowed to wear his favorite number seven, because another player had the right to wear it written into his contract. Beckham decided to wear the number 23 instead, being a big fan of Michael Jordan. He immediately became popular with the Real Madrid fans, but the team did not perform well enough to win either the Spanish League or the Champions League. However, Beckham remained a reliable scorer and his performances attracted more public. His shirts sales and other merchandising deals remained lucrative for the club, which continued to under-perform, regardless of the Real's management's higher expectations. In 2005 Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. He was also involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. His third season in Madrid was unremarkable, and he was criticized a lot, mainly because the team finished second to Barcelona in Spanish "La Liga" and lost to Arsenal in the European Champions League. However, during that season, he expanded his international presence by establishing football academies in Los Angeles and East London. During the FIFA World Cup 2006, he played for England, and became the first ever English player to score in three World Cups. In the quarter final game against Portugal, Beckham was replaced because of his injury in the middle of the game. Without him the English team lost and was knocked out of the World Cup. In June 2007 Beckham played his final game for Real Madrid. This was his fourth and final season there, ending his contract with the club. He announced that he had signed a five-year contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy from July 1, 2007 through June 2012. The 5-year deal includes up to $10 million a year in direct salary, and with merchandising endorsements and profit-sharing could earn Beckham up to $50 million a year, and may end up worth about $250 million in five years, making him one of the highest earning athletes of all time. In 2009, in a unique time share agreement David played on loan at AC Milan to maintain his fitness after ending the season with the Galaxy. He ended up staying with Milan for five months, from January to May 2009. In 2010, he also arranged to embark on a second loan spell at AC Milan from the Galaxy, to play for Milan for another five months. He said that he "genuinely enjoyed playing for Milan." In 2011, after winning his first MLS Cup, his five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy ended. At that time, Beckham was invited to play for Paris Saint-Germain. But the 36-year-old player said "My family and I are incredibly happy and settled in America and we look forward to spending many more years here... I am still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy" he stated after signing another two-year contract with the Los Angeles club. In 2012, Beckham helped the Los Angeles Galaxy to retain their championship by defeating the Houston Dynamo 3-1 in the final game and winning the MLS Cup 2012. His last appearance for Los Angeles was on December 2, 2012. Beckham's jersey No 23 has been the best-selling in the MLS and one of the best in the world, as he expands his image as one of sport's leading icons. Although he plays his best in the right of midfield, Beckham can be dangerous anywhere in the field and can make a difference in a big game with a pass, a cross, or a free kick. Arguably no one in the game can rival Beckham's accuracy in free kicks, as he can put that ball on a teammate's head with uncanny precision. He is still a decisive player, regardless of age. The Beckham experiment (as he was referred to by the MLS) has to be ruled a success--both on the business side (where he and L.A. made money from the start) and on the playing side (where Beckham and the Galaxy shook off two miserable seasons to reach the title game in three of his last four years). It was no coincidence that Beckham won the MLS Cup in the two seasons in which he finally made the Galaxy his top priority. U.S. soccer fans are savvy enough to know when they're getting the maximum from a player, and Beckham--who at times seemed more interested in prolonging his national-team career with England, and had twice gone on loan to AC Milan--regained the full faith of L.A. supporters with his performance and commitment in 2011 and '12. "I can't imagine there will be another player like David," said Galaxy coach and G.M. Bruce Arena, who won his record fourth MLS title. "Twenty years from now we're still going to talk about David Beckham as the one who helped turn [this league around]." Perhaps the ultimate legacy of the Beckham era is that MLS doesn't need him to continue growing. There are now 19 teams, compared with 12 when Beckham signed in 2007, and 15 of those play in soccer-specific stadiums. When the league kicks off its 18th season next March, it will have lasted longer than the old NASL (1968--84), which fizzled after foreign stars such as Pelé and Johan Cruyff left. MLS's television ratings leave something to be desired, but mere survival is no longer a concern, following a season of record average attendance (18,807).

Works Cited

(2013). Columbia electronic encyclopedia, 6th edition . (6th ed.). Gale Group. Retrieved from
(Columbia electronic encyclopedia, 2013)

Wahl, G. (2007, 07 16). The Americanization of David Beckham. Sports Illustrated, 107(2), Retrieved from
(Wahl, 2007)

Wahl, G. (2012, 12 10). Stature of David. Sports Illustrated, 117(23), Retrieved from
(Wahl, 2012)

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