The English soccer player hasn't had the greatest of years. His career couldn't compete in a fourth World Cup after injury. And then coach Fabio Capello called time on his international career. Let's look back on the highs and lows.
David Robert Joseph Beckham was born on May 2nd, 1975, and is a lifelong Manchester United supporter. As a boy, he attended the Bobby Charlton Soccer School (Charlton is a Manchester United legend) and dreamed of emulating his hero Bryan Robson and wearing the famous No.7 shirt one day.
Beckham signed a Youth Training Scheme contract in 1991 with his beloved United. The boy wonder announced his arrival on the soccer scene in August 1996 by scoring a spectacular goal from inside his own half on the opening day of the season. Beckham was voted Young Player of the Year for 1996-97, scoring an impressive eight goals in 40 appearances.
Beckham scored his first goal for England during the 1998 World Cup in France vs. Colombia. He had somewhat surprisingly been left out of England's two prior games in the tournament, and the outpouring of joy after he netted one of his trademark free kicks was clear for all to see. As he proceeded to thrust his hips, the nation's women swooned.
The undoubted low point of Beckham's playing career came when he received his first-ever red card in 1998, for flicking his leg out at Argentina's Diego Simeone during England's World Cup knockout game. Then England was eliminated on penalty kicks. Beckham escaped the intense media scrutiny back home in England—the Daily Mirror printed a dartboard with a picture of him centered on the bull's-eye—by going to New York to be with his Spice Girl fiancée Victoria Adams.
The U.K.'s most famous couple got married at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland on July 4th, 1999. The couple's son Brooklyn, then four months old, was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony, as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! magazine, but the tabloids still managed to show them sitting on golden thrones. It's believed that 437 people were employed to staff the reception, which was estimated to have cost the best part of $1 million.
A few months before the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Beckham was injured during a Champions League match. Suddenly all England fans became medical experts, and The Sun newspaper even asked people to place their hands on a front page depicting his injury, in a spiritual attempt to heal him. It must have worked, as he battled back to fitness and scored the winner in a group game against Argentina. Sadly for Beckham and England, they would be eliminated in the quarterfinals against the eventual champion Brazil.
In the summer of 2003, Beckham signed with the Spanish giant Real Madrid. The midfielder's career got off to a dream start when he scored in his debut, but trophies didn't come easily over his four-year period, with only a solitary league title and a cup to his and the team's name.
Back in the international scene, Beckham created history when he scored against Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup: it made him the first-ever English player to score in three separate World Cups, But yet again, the team was eliminated in the quarterfinal, this time courtesy of Portugal and those oh-so-cruel penalty kicks.
Quite simply, it was one of the most stunning transfers in the history of the sport: Beckham's move in 2007 to the Los Angeles Galaxy put Major League Soccer on the world map. Yet cynics would say that his move was a result of his no longer being selected for the England team.
Though he hadn't appeared for England since October 2009, Beckham was generally regarded as being a dead certainty to make England's World Cup squad. But the cruelty of sports intervened: an Achilles injury has ended those hopes. Beckham's Achilles' tendon, it turns out, was his Achilles' heel.
England's Italian coach Fabio Capello capped a miserable year for Beckham by confirming before the national side's friendly match with Hungary on August 11th, 2010 that he won't select him in another competitive international. Beckham cut a forlorn figure at times during England's horrific World Cup campaign in South Africa as part of Capello's management team. "I say thank you very much for helping me at the World Cup, but probably he is a little bit old," said Capello upon delivering the news, which Beckham found out about at the same time as the fans. He made 115 appearances for his country—the most by any outfield player—scored 17 times and captained the "Three Lions" on 58 occasions. It's doubtful we'll hear him roar again.