David Robert Joseph Beckham OBE (born May 2, 1975) is a British football player born in Leytonstone, London. He is a midfielder and is noted for the quality of his crossing and ability to hit a dead ball, particularly at long-range free-kicks. He has played most of his career for Manchester United F.C. and is currently captain of the English national football team.
Manchester United F.C.
Beckham first signed a trainee's contract with United in 1991, and made his League debut in 1995, aged 19. The next year he 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. In total, Beckham scored 86 goals in 397 games for Man United.
Real Madrid C.F.
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. 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. (Western journalists are excluded from the Japanese "press conferences" organised by his sponsors because of the embarrassment they would cause him in the West.)
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 proven very fruitful for both Beckham and the club. Beckham scored five times in his first 16 matches (including Real's 600th goal in the European Cup/Champions League, against Olympique Marseille on 26 November 2003), a higher scoring rate than his last year at Manchester United (11 goals in 52 games). He has become a favourite of the notoriously fickle Real Madrid crowd, and established an excellent playing relationship with Ronaldo.
English national team
By 1998 he was a regular international, and travelled with the England squad to the FIFA World Cup. In the second round of that competition he received a red-card for retaliation, following a foul challenge by the Argentine Diego Simeone. This act arguably cost England the game (which they lost on penalties) and the chance of advancing in the tournament. On returning home, Beckham became the target of criticism, sometimes justified (the accusation of petulance, for example) but much merely gratuitous. He received a similar vilification following his dismissal for a dangerous challenge in the Club World Championship the next year.
Following England's poor performance in the 2000 European Championship (from which Beckham was one of the few players to emerge with credit) and later poor performances, the departure of Kevin Keegan as manager saw Beckham promoted to captain, initially under caretaker manager Peter Taylor and maintained by Sven-Göran Eriksson. His leadership, mainly by example due to his fitness and workrate helped England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals and the 5-1 defeat of Germany in Munich during a qualifier (a pivotal event for English football fans). The final step in Beckham's conversion from villain to hero happened in England's 2-2 draw against Greece. Needing only one point from the match in order to qualify for the World Cup, Beckham dragged an otherwise poor England side to qualification with sheer determination and a perfectly executed, last-minute free kick. Meanwhile, taking the role of captain seems to have helped mature him, in both skill and temperament.
In a match with Portugal in the quarterfinals of the 2004 European Football Championship Beckham missed his penalty shot in the penalty shootout, sending his shot well over the crossbar. England lost the shootout 6-5, with Beckham missing and Darius Vassell having his shot saved. Controversy ensued due to the British press making the referee a scapegoat for the loss, publishing his phone number and postal address. This behaviour was harshly criticised by UEFA.
He was considered by some Manchester United fans to be too interested in playing for England, to the detriment of his performances for United.
Beckham's celebrity lifestyle
Beckham's highly publicised marriage to Spice Girl and media celebrity Victoria Adams, otherwise known as Posh Spice, has made them both popular targets for the tabloid press, which has dubbed the couple "Posh and Becks". They have two sons, Brooklyn, born March 4, 1999 and Romeo, born September 1, 2002. Beckham is well-known for his frequent hairstyle changes and has changed his hairstyle for many times after being criticised for influencing teenagers' hairstyle.
David Beckham is, according to the Google (http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist2003.html) search engine, the most famous sports personality in the world, however the producers of The Simpsons decided that he wasn't famous enough to make a cameo appearance in an episode of the show set in London. Also he's the most famous metrosexual (http://wiktionary.org/wiki/Metrosexual).
However, he has become more well known in North America since the success of the British film Bend It Like Beckham. It is about a Sikh girl whose ambition is to be a football player because she can play like David Beckham.
In 2001, Beckham became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In the summer of 2003, Beckham was made an OBE in Queen Elizabeth II's honours list.
In May of 2003 Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ordered David Beckham not to wear his hair band during matches. It has been speculated that he believed it to be too effeminate.
In April 2004, the British tabloid News of the World carried claims by his former personal assistant Rebecca Loos that he and Loos had had an extramarital affair. A week later, a second woman, Malaysian-born Australian model Sarah Marbeck, claimed that she had slept with Beckham on two occasions. Beckham has denied both allegations, describing them as "ludicrous".
In July of 2004, an intruder was arrested at David Beckham's home for scaling a wall with a can of gasoline. The Sun newspaper reported that the man appeared angry with Beckham and intended to burn down the house.
Near the end of the 2003-04 season, The Daily Telegraph of London reported that Beckham's major sponsors were trying to arrange for him to return to England for the 2004-05 season. Sources within the family told the Telegraph that Beckham would almost certainly be back in London. Real Madrid denied rumours that they were interested in selling Beckham, and banned British reporters from access to the team.
Because of the extremely high fee that Real could command for a Beckham deal, and the fact that the other teams that could afford the fee had financial constraints (Arsenal, Liverpool) or personality issues (Man U) that would have made a deal unlikely, speculation immediately focused on Chelsea, with its billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. Adding fuel to the rumours, Chelsea's manager at that time, Claudio Ranieri, told an Italian newspaper that the club was pursuing both Beckham and Ronaldo, and The Evening Standard of London reported that Chelsea was prepared to pay £40 million for Beckham.
However, on 20 May, Beckham, in a statement issued through his agent, quashed the transfer rumours, stating that he would see out the remaining three years of his contract in Madrid. He added that his wife and sons, who had yet to move to Spain, would join him there.
Failure at Euro 2004
Beckham played in all England's matches at Euro 2004, but failed to shine. He had his penalty saved by former Man U teammate Fabien Barthez in his side's 2-1 defeat to France in their opening group game. Then, when England's quarterfinal against hosts Portugal went to a penalty shootout, he was the first England player to attempt a shot. Beckham proceeded to send his kick far over the crossbar and into Row Q of Estádio da Luz. He later blamed the miss on the poor state of the pitch.
The Spanish spectator who caught Beckham's miss put the ball up for auction on the Spanish version of eBay, where it had reportedly attracted bids of up to €10 million. However, eBay España soon determined that virtually all of the astronomical bids, including the €10 million bid, were fake. When bidding closed on 22 July, the winning bid was a more modest €28,050.
Beckham : Both Feet on the Ground: An Autobiography by David Beckham & Tom Watt
Beckham: My World by David Beckham & Dean Freeman