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Beckham's soccer journey: From Manchester to Paris

Last updated on: February 1, 2013 19:48 IST

Beckham's soccer journey: From Manchester to Paris

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Norma Godinho

Just when you thought David Beckham was all but over, the talisman pulled out a massive surprise.

- Beckham signs up for last tango in Paris

English football's poster boy decided to give himself one last shot at glory on the big stage, when he returned to European football and signed for top French club Paris St Germain on Thursday.

From the day a teenaged Beckham scored a goal from inside his own half for Manchester United in 1996 to winning the MLS for LA Galaxy in November 2012, most of his career has been spent scaling dizzy heights.

Norma Godinho takes a look at the 'Beckham phenomenon' that left many football fanatics wanting for more.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

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Teenage wonder

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At Manchester United, the club of his boyhood dreams, he was instrumental in six Premier league titles.

While never blessed with lightning pace, nor the tricks of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, Beckham's tireless energy, trademark free-kicks and ability to deliver accurate crosses, made him a potent force.

He had 265 appearances for United over a span of a decade. He didn't play a Premier League match until early 1995, shortly after returning from a loan deal Preston North End in 1994-95.

In the 1998-1999 season, he was part of the United team that won The Treble -- Premier League treble, the FA Cup and the Champions League, all in one season. A unique feat!

But his deteriorating relationship with the gaffer -- Alex Ferguson -- despite club success, saw him move over to Real Madrid in 2003.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport

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Beckham didn't taste much success in Spain

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After leaving Old Trafford he spent four years at Real Madrid where he was part of the 'Galacticos', playing with superstars like Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo (THE ORIGINAL ONE) Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Iker Casillas and the likes.

After initial success – finishing runners-up at the Copa Del Ray and winning the Super Cup, Beckham didn't taste much success. Even in Europe, the 'Galacticos' failed to fire and often fell short at the knock-out stages.

In the 2005-06 season, Beckham finished with an impressive record for most assists in the season. The Englishman's stay at the Bernabeu saw a lot of coaches come and go, but when Italian 'iron hand' Fabio Capello took over the reigns, Beckham's days were numbered.

Capello favoured the more agile and younger Jose Reyes over Beckham and by January 2007, it was announced that Beckham was on his way out at the end of the season.

But Beckham's last hurrah at the Bernebeu was Real winning the LA Liga in his final season.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Beckham moves to LA Galaxy

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Beckham then went on to pitch his tent in Los Angeles in 2007.

Beckham had already started a football academy in LA a year before, so adapting to the US was not difficult. Obviously, the fame and attention that came with staying in a Beverly Hills neighbourhood was not new to the Beckhams, so all the more cheer there.

But by now, America was seen as a retirement home for most star footballers. With Galaxy, he joined a select group of players to win titles in three countries.

But his career at Galaxy was hampered by injury. In the earlier part, he spent more time recuperating from a knee injury and came on, most matches, as substitute.

In early 2008 he trained with Arsenal before heading back to LA but that year was disappointing for the club, having failed to qualify for the play-offs.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

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Beckham blossomed in Milan

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During the off season, Beckham signed the first of two loan deals with AC Milan in Jan 2009. Coach Carlo Ancelotti rested a lot of faith in Beckham and included him in the starting line-up of many a Serie A games.

The Milan team sheet included a mix of veteran names -- Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf – and top players like Kaka, Alexandra Pato and Andrea Pirlo – but Beckham still contributed well during his time at the club with two goals in his first four matches and several assists in others.

Beckham's loan had been extended through mid-July. It was later revealed by Beckham that there was a unique "timeshare" deal, in which Beckham would play with LA from mid-July till the end of the 2009 MLS season.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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Return to LA Galaxy

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After missing the first half of the MLS season, Beckham returned to LA but was greeted with boos and fan fury. However, he didn't let it affect his performance on the field and helped the club win the 2009 Western Conference final after a 2-0 overtime victory over the Houston Dynamo.

But he couldn't help them cross the final hurdle as Galaxy lost to Real Salt Lake by 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.

Come Jan 2010, Beckham crossed over to Milan for another loan spell but it was not a very pleasant stay. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon during a Serie A game against ChievoVerona in March.

The injury took a severe toll, causing him to miss the World Cup as well as the MLS season and kept him out of action for the next five months.

In September that year, Beckham returned to Galaxy, a fit player and he scored in important matches. His contributions saw LA Galaxy clinch their second successive Western Conference title and first MLS Supporters' Shield since 2002.

The 2011 season was very fruitful for Beckham, leading the list of assists. On 20 November 2011, LA Galaxy won their third MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo, winning 1-0. As a result, Beckham became one of the few players to have won three league titles in three different countries.

Beckham's success at Galaxy continued in 2012 when he helped the Galaxy to a fourth place finish in the MLS Western Conference 2012 regular season with seven goals and the retain their championship by winning MLS Cup 2012 in November.

On Jan 31, after intense speculation, Beckham signed a five-month deal with the Paris St Germain.


Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Harry How/Getty Images

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