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David Beckham – a fan tribute

It’s official! David Beckham is training with Spurs, yet his loan deal to the Lane has to be registered until Friday. Regarding this loan agreement, some say that it’s a dead deal (due to the player’s insurance, length of the deal, etc.). Others argue that Spurs are completely bonkers to try and sign a 35-old player and that perhaps Spurs should look elsewhere.

If this deal goes ahead or not, I do not know. What I do know is that this guy is amazing. He has everything, you name it: football legend status, fame, athletic body, good looks, a glam wife, gazillion of silver coins, three wonderful boys at home (a forth child is expected for this summer).

His name is said to be “as instantly recognizable as that of multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM.” The search engine Ask Jeeves named Beckham in December 2009 as the third most online searched person in the last decade. The findings are based on online activity by British users of the search engine. He is also involved in several charitable activities: Unicef (he is a Goodwill Ambassador), Unite for Children, Unite against Aids, Malaria No More, MLS W.O.R.K.S.

Now, if I were to speak about Beckham off the pitch, I would probably end up writing several books (and it could take years to say all there is to say about him). I will talk about the football player, from a fan’s point of view. Everybody has his/her heroes. One of my heroes is Beckham.

The former no. 7 Old Trafford-favorite simply fascinated me with his free-kicks and his unbelievable crossing accuracy. I would say that he improved the accuracy of a cross to perfection. This statement could be viewed as biased, I suppose, but ask his former teammates: Yorke, Andy Cole, Van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo (the Brazilian). Or trust Sir Alex Ferguson who said that Becks “practised with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn’t care about.”

With United he won 6 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, one Uefa Champions League trophy, one Intercontinental Cup, four FA Community Shield trophies and one FA Youth Cup.

As individual honours, I would mention: PFA Young Player of the Year (’96-’97), Uefa Club Footballer of the Year (’98 – ’99), Uefa Club Midfielder of the Year (’98 – ’99), Fifa 100, BBC Sports Personality of the Year (2001), English football Hall of Fame (2008), BBC Sports Lifetime Achievement Award (2010), Goal of the Decade (yes, that goal against Wimbledon) runner-up to Rivaldo for 1999’s European Footballer of the Year/Fifa World Player of the Year awards, and many more.

He was part of the group of young talents at Old Trafford, called “Fergie’s Fledglings”, along with Butt, the Neville brothers, Scholes and the magnificent Giggs.

David was an indispensable member of the United team that won The Treble (a unique feat in English football). Just think of the Uefa Champions League season: The Red Devils won the trophy without losing a single game, despite having competed in a group with Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Brøndby plus facing Inter (quarterfinals), Juventus (semifinals) and Bayern (in the final). Speaking about the final, both of United’s goals came from corners taken by Beckham.

I remember watching United’s games just for his unbelievable way to strike that ball. There were nights when I would shout “Here’s Beckham!” or “He scores! Stunning free-kick” even if I was watching the game by myself.

As a fan, I was hurt to read that his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson deteriorated. I was hurt to see Beckham benched in that classic encounter versus Real Madrid. I threw my fists in the air when Becks converted that free-kick against the Spanish giants. To summarize this idea, as any regular fan, I was happy when he was happy. I didn’t care much about the publicity around him. My only desire at that time was to see Beckham wear that no. 7 shirt. Both for United and England.

In the summer of 2003, Beckham left the Theater of Dreams to join Florentino Perez’s galacticos. I confess that I would have liked him to join Barcelona instead, as I am a blaugrana fan. For United, Beckham had made 265 Premier league appearances for United and scored 61 goals. He also made 81 Champions league appearances, scoring 15 goals.

Although in Spain I support Barcelona, I would still watch Beckham’s games. With Real Madrid he only won a Supercup (2003) and one La Liga title (2006 – 2007). In 4 years at the Bernabeu, Beckham scored only 20 goals in 155 games in all competitions. You all know the story of his big-buck deal with LA Galaxy and his loan spell to my beloved Ac Milan.

In international football, he holds the all-time appearance record for an outfield player (115) surpassing Bobby Moore’s 108-game record. Despite being instrumental for England’s national team, he did receive death threats (after his sent off in the ’98 World Cup), taunted by his own fans during a 3-2 defeat to Portugal during Euro 2000 and considered a villain for a long period of time.

On 15 November 2000, he was appointed captain of the national team and helped England qualify for the 2002 Fifa World Cup Finals, including impressive performances like the one against Germany (in that fairytale 5-1 win). The fans were ready to treat him again like a hero and needed just one more step from Beckham. David duly delivered it, scoring a trademark free-kick against Greece on 6 October 2001 in injury time which ensured England’s qualification. Shortly after this wonder goal, Becks was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He once again finished runner-up, this time to Luís Figo, for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

He captained England 58 times and against Ecuador (during the 2006 Fifa World Cup), he became the first ever English player to score in three separate World Cups.

On 20 March 2008, Beckham was recalled to the England squad by Capello for the friendly against France in Paris on 26 March. Beckham became only the fifth Englishman to win 100 caps. On 11 May 2008, Capello included an in-form Beckham in his 31 man England squad to face the United States at Wembley Stadium on 28 May before the away fixture with Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June. Beckham was honoured before the match by receiving an honorary gold cap representing his 100th cap from Bobby Charlton, and was given a standing ovation from the crowd. In a surprise move, Capello handed Beckham the captaincy for England’s friendly against Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June 2008. The match was the first time since the 2006 World Cup that Beckham had skippered England and marked a dramatic turnaround for Beckham. In two years, he had gone from being dropped completely from the England squad to being reinstated (though temporarily) as England captain.

Capello said that Beckham may be selected for one last friendly game, stating, “If he is fit, I hope we will play one more game here at Wembley so the fans can say goodbye”. In response to the comments, Beckham’s agent released a statement reiterating Beckham’s position that he had no desire to retire from international football, and would always be make himself available for selection for England if fit and if needed

As his fan, I would have loved Sir Alex Ferguson to recall him to Old Trafford and give him the opportunity to retire where it all began. By all means, David deserves it. Just as much as he deserves an official goodbye-game from the national team.

Yet, Spurs have a fantastic chance of signing him on loan. Should Becks return to the Premier League, it would be awesome. Yes, he is 35 and no longer in his prime. I agree, his fitness levels are not what they used to be, but he still has that magic way of placing the ball wherever he desires to. He is David Beckham, you know!

There are many other important things to be said about him, and someday I will probably update this fan tribute.

As a personal note, I have never had the opportunity to attend one of his games and it’s a shame as it definitely would have been great. As a fan, I would say that he has made me happy so many times and that I wish him all the best, regardless of his life path.

David Beckham, I am in awe!

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