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Red Icons: David Beckham; what might have been if he had stayed at Old Trafford?

David Beckham

David Beckham is one of the players that many in their 30’s and younger rate as a player, being that he was one of the players who was nurtured into one of the best in the country during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. Beckham was one of the six players from the famous Class of 1992, which included Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville, all of whom are still working in the game today with Butt the head of the Academy at United, the others working in coaching, analysis or punditry roles. Beckham himself is still trying to get his MLS franchise in Miami up and running, passing his expertise in the game onto those in the United States of America, where football, or soccer as they call it is still a sport which is seen as something only the privileged can partake in, especially in the youth ranks, which is something that may need to change, with Beckham wanting to get involved in that.

David Beckham, love him or hate him was one of the best players to come through the Academy in the 1990’s. Many did hate him, if only for the ‘Brand Beckham’ part of his life, but that was at the time football was changing, which has seemingly become normal in this modern-day football. Beckham scored 85 goals in 394 appearances at the Old Trafford club, playing in some of the best matches in Sir Alex Ferguson’s career, winning the treble in the 1998/99 season. Beckham helped United win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two FA Community Shields, a UEFA Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup. During his time in the Academy, Beckham also contributed in the FA Youth Cup winning season back in 1992.

Beckham famously scored from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park back in August 1997, a great goal which showed the guys confidence and ability. Beckham, much like George Best in terms of practicing his ability, would spend hours as a child kicking balls, much like one of the greatest ever players to grace the Old Trafford pitch. Back in 2003, Beckham left the club, after a turbulent time with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, leaving for Real Madrid, with a new guy called Cristiano Ronaldo coming in to effectively replace Beckham, who was a much-loved figure at the Theatre of Dreams at the time, a player that many miss, even to this day. His replacement did not do all that bad either. Beckham did not achieve the great heights he was expected to at Real Madrid, winning one La Liga and a Supercopa de España during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, scoring 20 goals in 155 appearances. In 2007, at the expiry of his contract, just weeks after winning his first La Liga title, Beckham left the Spanish capital for Los Angeles to play for LA Galaxy in the MLS, despite still being able to offer something in the game, at the highest level.

Beckham played for LA Galaxy for five years, winning the MLS Western Conference three times, the MLS Supporters Shield twice and the MLS Cup twice. During his spell in the MLS, during the off-season in the USA, Beckham made two loan spells with Milan in the Serie A, playing 33 matches in total over the two spells, scoring twice. He did return to Old Trafford with Milan, which was good to see, even donning a green and gold scarf during the protests of the club owners, the Glazers. For LA Galaxy, Beckham scored a total of 20 goals in 118 appearances, upping the profile of football (soccer) in the United States, which was something he was brought in to do. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have too left the Premier League for the MLS, not with he same effect as Beckham though. Which again shows just how underrated the man was in the game.

After leaving the USA, Beckham signed for Paris Saint-Germain, playing for one season before hanging up his boots for the final time, of his career anyway. Beckham and football would always be something that goes together. Becks has returned to the field for charity, playing for Unicef in a game at Old Trafford, which also saw him reunited with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and sharing the pitch with his son, Brooklyn, not for the first time. Beckham played well in that match, really turning back the years. Before retirement, Beckham would add another trophy to his impressive haul, willing the Ligue 1 title with PSG, playing 14 matches in the 2012/13 season, saying an emotional farewell at the end of the season, which was a sad affair. Beckham loves football and football loves Beckham. That is not something that will change either.

I was gutted to see Beckham leave Manchester United back in the summer of 2003, even more so after the way he left the club. Still that is all water under the bridge now and both Beckham and Ferguson have buried the hatchet, with Beckham still calling Sir Alex boss, which just goes to show the immense amount of respect the player still holds for the most successful manager in the Premier League, which is something the manager still shows for Beckham, one of the best players he has managed. Those that do not rate Beckham, I do wonder why. They probably hold his off-field antics against him, but based purely on football, Beckham was one of the best to grace the Premier League. There are many players ahead of him, but rightly so, he still deserves some plaudits for what he did. His ability to cross and score free-kicks is something that has seldom been replicated at the Theatre of Dreams, something United could do with today!

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