David Beckham picked up the lifetime achievement award for his contribution to football at the BBC sports personality of the year awards on Sunday night.
The 35-year-old was presented with the trophy by Sir Bobby Charlton, who won the same award himself only two years ago, and was wet-eyed as he was given a standing ovation lasting more than two minutes.
Beckham, watched by wife Victoria and sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, said: "I'm really humbled to receive an award for something I have always loved and continue to love doing."
He added: "Football is a team game and without the team and the players' support and skill I wouldn't be here today.
"I have been lucky enough to have played for some of the great teams - Preston, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy and of course playing for England has been the highlight."
He also paid tribute to his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, saying: "He's the best manager in football, I regard him as a father figure."
Beckham dedicated his award to British troops serving in Afghanistan - he visited Camp Bastion on a morale-raising trip in May.
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