David Beckham, the world’s most famous footballer, whose spectacular career has spanned countries and continents, finally left the pitch for the last time on Saturday night, retiring after securing the Championship for Paris St. Germain after more than 20 years in the game.
The 38-year-old former England international, who was made captain for the night, was clearly emotional as he headed for the touchline on 81 minutes, receiving a standing ovation from the Parisian crowd, as well as his team mates who had congregated in the middle of the pitch to wish him farewell.
At the final whistle he was was tossed in the air in celebration by his teammates, while wife Victoria looked on. The game, which PSG won 3-1 against Brest, was a sideshow.
After the match Beckham addressed the crowd: "I want to say thank you to everybody in Paris - to my team-mates, to the staff, to the fans. It's been very special to finish my career here. It could not have been any more special.
"I just feel that it's the right time. I feel that I've achieved everything that I could in my career. I wanted to go out as a champion. I've finished my career in a team that has treated me like I've been here for 10 years. After 22 years of playing football I'm going to take a few months to enjoy time with my family."
Debate has raged over the past week as to the substance of Beckham’s career – footballer, fashion brand or marketing icon? League titles in England, Spain, North America and now France, added to a Champions League winners medal and countless other trophies, should ensure the player’s legacy in the pantheon of footballing greats.
Even if he wasn’t quite in the league of his peers – Zidane and Scholes – it is unlikely football will ever see his like again.