After signing with the club as a trainee in 1991, Beckham made his first-team debut for Manchester United at age 17 as a reserve in its second round Rumbelows Cup match against Brighton & Hove Albion.
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In a Champions League match against Galatasaray, Beckham scored his first goal for Manchester United -- one of more than 80 goals he would score for the club in 12 years.
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A Beauty against Wimbledon
One of Beckham's most beautiful goals took place on Manchester United's first day of the 1996 season against Wimbledon. Man U was up by two when Beckham got the ball inside his own half. His eyes darted up for a second before he shot from midfield. The ball went sailing over Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan's head and crashed into the back of the net. Two weeks later he played in his first game with the English national team.
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A 21-year-old Beckham made his international debut in a World Cup qualifying game against Moldova in September 1996. The newcomer hid his nerves well, and England snagged the much needed 3-0 win.
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Over these two seasons, Beckham and Man U won back-to-back Premier League championships. During the second campaign, Beckham was named 1996 PFA Young Player of the Year and finished second in voting for Player of the Year.
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Beckham gets angry
Beckham received a red card and was sent off against Argentina in the second round of the 1998 World Cup after kicking out at Diego Simeone. The tantrum caused a massive public and media outcry. Many fans blamed him for ruining England's shot at winning a World Cup.
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Man U's Greatest Season Ever
Playing in a career-high 52 games, Beckham and Man U completed the historic treble, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and, in a historic final, the UEFA Champions League (where two late goals set up by Beckham pushed United past Bayern Munich 2-1). Beckham was named runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award (and would be again in 2001).
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The Posh Wedding
Beckham caused quite the British tabloid frenzy in 1999 when he wed British pop-sensation Victoria Adams, otherwise known as Posh Spice. Posh and Becks soon became the most famous celebrity couple in the world.
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The Best Goal
With only seconds left on the clock, England was trailing Greece 2-1 in the game that would determine England's inclusion in the 2002 World Cup. Beckham saved the day for the Three Lions. As millions of fans held their breaths, the team captain curled in a free-kick to force the draw and secure a place for England in South Korea/Japan.
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Beckham made up for his 1998 red card by scoring the game's only goal vs. Argentina, a penalty kick in the 44th minute. The win revived England's hopes of advancing from group play and ended up preventing the heavily favored Argentines from doing so themselves.
11 of 27Bob Martin/SI
Hurting his metatarsal
In April 2002, Beckham fractured a metatarsal in a Champions League quarterfinal game against Deportivo La Coruña. The famed injury made the term 'metatarsal' a colloquial, household name.
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Locker-room mishap with Alex Ferguson
Beckham was left with a cut over his left eyebrow after a locker-room feud with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The altercation sparked rumors of a summer transfer for Becks.
13 of 27JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images
After 12 years, six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the 1999 UEFA Champions League title, Beckham left Manchester United, signing for Spanish rival Real Madrid in a $25 million deal. Since club captain Raúl already wore No. 7 jersey (Beckham's number for Man U), Becks chose to wear No. 23 in honor of his favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan.
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Missing PK in the Euro quarterfinals
Beckham sent an embarrassingly high shot over the bar during the 2004 European Championship as the quarterfinal went to penalty kicks. Beckham's shank cost his team the game as Portugal won the shootout 6-5. England's Euro 2004 run came to a screeching halt and Beckham was stuck defending his position as captain.
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In 2004, France Football magazine named Beckham the highest-paid soccer player in the world, citing earnings of approximately $27 million. The sum put Becks above fellow stars Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Raúl and Roberto Carlos.
16 of 27Simon Bruty/SI
World Cup legend
Beckham became the first English player to score in three World Cups. England's superstar team captain took a free kick after Frank Lampard was fouled in the Round of 16 vs. Ecuador. His shot curled over the wall and banked in off the post to give the Three Lions the 1-0 win.
17 of 27Simon Bruty/SI
Beckham stepped down as captain of the England national team after his third World Cup. "The time is right to pass on the armband as we enter in a new era," he said.
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Crossing the Pond
In 2007, Beckham left European soccer and Real Madrid to play in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer. He agreed to a five-year deal with the Galaxy and joined the Hollywood in-crowd in L.A.
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Beckham Makes his Mark
On Aug. 15, a week after his MLS debut, Beckham and the Galaxy faced off against D.C. United in the SuperLiga semifinals. It was a game of firsts for Beckham: first start, first game as captain and first yellow card. He also recorded his first goal (off a free kick, of course) and assist. His efforts gave the Galaxy a 2--0 victory, earning them a birth in the final against Pachuca of Mexico.
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Reaching 100 Caps
Beckham became the fifth Englishman in history to earn 100 caps with his national team in March 2008.
21 of 27Chris Williams/Icon SMI
Beckham scored on an empty net from 70 yards out in a game against the Kansas City Wizards (his second career goal from his own half). The Galaxy took the game 3-1, pushing them to their first winning record in two years and into first place in the Western Conference.
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Trouble in the locker room
By mid-2008, as the team struggled, rumors began to surface about growing distance between Beckham and his teammates. More, questions arose about Beckham's effectiveness as team captain. The Galaxy failed to qualify for the playoffs that season.
23 of 27Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
In October 2008, AC Milan announced that Beckham would join its team on loan until January. Amidst speculation, Beckham said he intended to return to the Galaxy in time for the start of the season. But, after scoring two goals and two assists in his first five games for Milan, Becks announced that he wanted to leave the Galaxy for good. Beckham finished out the Serie A season in May and will rejoin the Galaxy this month, midway through the MLS season.
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Return to Los Angeles
Beckham would have two stints with Milan - one in 2009 and another in 2010 - and received a mixed reaction from fans upon his return to Los Angeles. Both times, however, Beckham led the Galaxy to a Western Conference title.
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Galaxy are champions
Beckham played out the final year of his five-year deal in 2011 and the 36-year-old turned in the best season of his MLS career. He finished second in the league in assists (15) and led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup. Beckham remained mum on his future, but many speculate he played his final match in the MLS.
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Beckham, who had said that the 2012 MLS Cup would be his last game with the Galaxy, ended his MLS career on a high note. He helped the Galaxy win their second consecutive MLS Cup, again defeating the Houston Dynamo in Los Angeles.
27 of 27David Vincent/AP
PSG....and the end
Beckham joined French superclub Paris Saint-Germain in February. As of May 16 he had started just four games for the club, including a Champions League quarterfinal match against Barcelona. The 38-year-old Beckham said Thursday, May 16, he will retire at the end of the season. "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,'' the former England captain said in a statement.
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