Today David Beckham is known worldwide, mostly for his looks but believe it or not David Beckham actually played soccer, aka football, and was at one time a world class player!
Becks recently announced his retirement from the soccer world, and at 38, it was certainly time. He began professional football at the age of 17 when he made his debut for Manchester United in 1992 in a League Cup match. He played on 6 Premier League champion teams and helped lead the Red Devils to a Champions League title in 1999. That same year he won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. He has also won domestic titles at Real Madrid in La Liga, MLS titles for LA Galaxy, and even finished his career raising a cup for France’s PSG in Ligue 1. David Beckman is a decorated mid-fielder who played at the top level of soccer domestically and on the international level for over two decades. These accomplishments are remarkable yet this alone would not make him the most important player during his time, much less ever.
Yet, David Beckham more importantly became a brand off the field. He has become a fashion icon, a Pepsi pusher, and a fragrance in himself!
His marriage to Victoria Adams, aka Posh Spice, was another boom to his career and marketability. The couple has been found on magazine covers since their union in 1999 and has helped the soccer player amass a fortune of nearly $300 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Why does his off the field activity make him so important? His on field play would have been enough to make him known in soccer circles and soccer homes. Yet, his looks and ability to capitalize on it have made him a household name across the world. People who have never watched a match, or quite possibly a sporting event know who David Beckham is. His impact financially for clubs has been apparent as clubs have paid just for him to wear their uniform in his later years, as evident with his stints at Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. Though serviceable as a mid-fielder, it was well known that his appearances would draw fans and sell merchandise. Sometimes you hear that a person’s contributions are immeasurable, but Beckham’s actually are measurable.
Soccer in the United States has been a holy grail, in the fact that it’s popularity has always seemed to escape the mainstream but the sport has continued to seek it out. There have been soccer legends like Pele who have captured the public’s attention but that soon waned after the initial novelty wore off. Beckham’s introduction to the MLS in 2006 with LA Galaxy is quite possibly the most important act for the sport in America. There had been serviceable players in the league that enjoyed notoriety but never a culture icon. His arrival marked a change on the landscape of the American sports world. Richard Luker, a social scientist, marks that professional soccer is the 2nd most popular sport in America behind only Professional Football in 12-24 yr olds.
Beckham’s impact can also be seen in the MLS with the number of teams, salaries, and attendance all increasing dramatically since his arrival. More shocking is the creation of stadiums in the league from 2 to 13 since 2006. Much like the Yankees existed before Ruth and Yankee Stadium was the “House that Ruth Built”, can the MLS and it’s growth be known as the “League that Beckham Built”?
The overall and lasting impact of David Beckham’s career in America will not be known for years to come but the growth of the MLS and ESPN’s continued involvement in soccer programming point to soccer finally having a foothold in America. He has possibly done what others before could not do…make soccer a prominent sport in the world’s most coveted market.