There's only one David Beckham

Off the field David Beckham has become a global phenomenon, up there with the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali for the attention he attracts, writes Chris Anstey.

David Beckham's footballing abilities may have a divided opinion, but there is absolutely no doubt that England's most successful export in recent years has led an extraordinary career.

Even before you start to count the personal accolades, his CV includes winning titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy, appearing in three World Cups and proudly captaining his country 59 times.

Off the field he has become a global phenomenon, up there with the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali for the attention he attracts. He has indeed helped to blur the football and celebrity bond.

Born in Leytonstone, East London, Beckham was brought up by his father Ted, a kitchen fitter, and mother Sandra, a hairdresser. Both of them were avid Manchester United supporters.

Aged 11, he attended the Bobby Charlton Soccer School and won a trip to the Nou Camp in Barcelona for being the most skilful in his age group and was signed as a trainee by United in 1991.

He was in good company in United's youth team.

Together with Phillip and Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, “the Class of '92” won the FA Youth Cup, beating Crystal Palace 6-3 on aggregate in the final.

Famously, in the 1996 season, BBC football pundit Alan Hansen said on Match of the Day that “You can't win anything with kids,” referring to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's reliance on his young guns in the Premier League. United's young squad went on to win the Premier League and the FA Cup double.

Although limited in certain areas, Beckham was becoming known as a dead-ball specialist and superb passer of the ball.

This burgeoning reputation led to Beckham earning his first England cap against Moldova in 1996 before being included in England's 1998 World Cup squad.

Beckham also played a pivotal role in Manchester United's historic 1999 season when they clinched an unprecedented treble of the Barclays English Premier League, English FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.

His two corners which decided the final against Bayern Munich were to be the high point for the midfielder during his time in Manchester, as his subsequent two years at the club were marred by rumours of constant tension with his boss and mentor Sir Alex Ferguson.

The United manager believed the off-field antics were taking over his focus and the breakdown in understanding came to a head in February 2003.

United had just been knocked out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford by Arsenal, their biggest rivals at the time. In frustration Ferguson kicked a boot across the changing rooms that hit Beckham above the eye. At the end of that season Beckham was sold to Real Madrid in a GBP25 million transfer.

Beckham joined a host of other stars at the Bernabeau such as Zidane, Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul but enjoyed mixed fortunes. He eventually won Spain's La Liga in the 2006/07 season under the guidance of current England boss Fabio Capello.

Despite many believing that he could play a few more years at the highest level, Beckham opted to move to MLS side LA Galaxy in July 2007, to promote the game in the States, although a cynical media believed that Beckham went to the U.S. on the whim of his wife, Victoria.

David Beckham's first car was a humble Ford Escort which he used to drive to Man United training in the mid 90's but since then Beckham has spent an estimated GBP3.25 million on his extensive collection of cars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo and Aston Martin 1970s Vantage.

© PA Sport FACTFILE Name: David Beckham Position: Midfielder Club: LA Galaxy D.O.B: 02/05/1975 England Caps: 115 England Goals: 17 England Debut: v Moldova, 01/09/1996 Moment to remember

With England only needing a draw to qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea, many expected the team to cruise past Greece in the final match of the qualifying campaign at Old Trafford. However, they were losing as stoppage time ticked by until a superb Beckham free-kick rescued the cause.

Moment to forget

In the 2004 European Championships Beckham missed a penalty in the shootout against Portugal in Lisbon.

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