End it like Beckham: David's hanging up his boots for good
DAVID Beckham is retiring from football.
The former England captain, who in January signed a deal with Paris St Germain, has opted against extending his contract with the French club and will instead hang up his boots.
In a statement he said: "I'm thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level."
He added: "If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhood club Manchester United, proudly captained and played for my country over one hundred times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy. I'm fortunate to have realised those dreams."
It brings an end to a career quite unlike any other.
The 38-year-old made his debut for Manchester United in 1992 before going on to play for Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and PSG - winning the league title with all of them and becoming the first Englishman to win the league in four different countries.
The Leytonstone-born footballer also featured for Italian side AC Milan on two separate loan spells.
It is perhaps with England that Beckham will be most fondly remembered.
After making his international debut in 1996 he went on to collect 115 caps during his career and scored crucial goals for the national team - with perhaps his last minute equaliser against Greece which secured England's berth in the 2002 World Cup the most famous.
Despite being dropped by Steve McClaren in 2006 in a bid to rejuvenate the side, when things weren't going well he was ushered back into the side and would clinch his 100th cap in an away game against France in 2008.
Beckham said: "To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country.
"I knew every time I wore the Three Lions shirt, I was not only following in a long line of great players, I was also representing every fan that cared passionately about their country. I'm honoured to represent England both on and off the pitch."
Beckham's time in an England shirt was not always plain sailing, particularly after the 1998 World Cup at which he was sent off against Argentina as England bowed out.
The then Manchester United youngster returned home from France as something of a national hate figure. At Euro 2000 he responded to jeering with an obscene gesture.
Yet he was to turn it around on the pitch and his profile off it escalated into realms of celebrity never seen before or since by a footballer.
His marriage to former Spice Girl Victoria Adams certainly helped by his likeable character saw him embraced as something of a national hero - recognised and cemented by his crucial role in Britain's bidding process for the 2012 London Olympics.
His current club PSG have won this year's Ligue 1 title but they still have two games to play this season, this weekend against Brest and then away to Lorient on May 26 - which will be Beckham's last game.
Beckham won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League at Manchester United. He would win the Primera Division title in his final season with Real Madrid and the US Major League Soccer championship twice.
Speaking today, he said: "I wouldn't have achieved what I have done today without my family. I'm grateful for my parents' sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams. I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period. I also want to thank Simon Fuller and his team for their continued support.
"I want to thank all my team-mates, the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning from. I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me and given me the strength to succeed."
Beckham has this year become an ambassador for the sport in China.
"Nothing will ever completely replace playing the game I love, however I feel like I'm starting a new adventure and I'm genuinely excited about what lies ahead," said Beckham.
"I'm fortunate to have been given many opportunities throughout my career and now I feel it's my time to give back."