David Beckham’s status as the darling of world soccer has been confirmed, after the LA Galaxy midfielder was voted the best football role model of all time.
The 37-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid star beat some legendary names to claim the crown, with Brazilian superstar Pele second and England’s all-time top goalscorer Bobby Charlton in third.
Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker finished fourth, whilst Northern Ireland and Manchester United maverick George Best is an obscure choice in fourth place.
The survey of 1,000 Coral customers produced an intriguing list, with Sir Bobby Moore, Sir Stanley Matthews and Steven Gerrard also making it into the top ten.
“It is no surprise David came top. In recent years he has positioned himself as a sporting ambassador,” said David Stevens, spokesman for the popular bookmaker.
Beckham has managed to change his public persona over time in England, becoming a national icon just a decade after a red card against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup threatened to make him a hate figure for life.
A crucial free-kick and captain’s performance against Greece in 2001 did much to complete his redemption on the international stage, whilst a move to Real Madrid two years later helped Beckham go global.
Off the pitch, and Beckham helped the United Kingdom secure the Olympic Games with a crucial cameo during the bidding process in 2005, and his role in the opening ceremony was just reward for his efforts in Singapore.
Married to a Spice Girl with four kids, Beckham moved to America in 2008, and whilst the reaction was initially mixed, the 115-cap international showed what he’s all about by helping the LA Galaxy to an MLS Cup last season.
With two more years on his contract in the States, Beckham still has plenty left in the tank, and his longevity could be another factor behind why fans feel such affection towards the man.
Football’s Top Ten Role Models:
1 David Beckham; 2 Pele; 3 Sir Bobby Charlton; 4 Gary Lineker; 5 George Best; 6 Sir Bobby Moore; 7 Sir Stanley Matthews; 8 Jack Charlton; 9 Alan Ball; 10 Steven Gerrard.