David Beckham has come a long way since his early days growing up in Leytonstone, London.

His move to Manchester United and then subsequent rise to fame has rarely been seen in a footballer.

Beckham very quickly became a household name particularly after his wonder goal from the half way line against Wimbledon in August 1996. His rise to prominence gave Beckham instant fame and fortune but it also attracted plenty of criticism in the early days. His relationship with Spice Girl Victoria Beckham gave his critics more ammunition.

In the early part of his career Beckham didn't help himself with his lifestyle outside football as well as attracting criticism for the way he spoke during interviews.

The World Cup in 1998 was the moment where he was nationally vilified because of his sending off against Argentina when he showed his immaturity. The criticism he received after this seemed to be a watershed in his career.

David Beckham turned his career around by becoming an icon on the football field. His last minute equaliser for England against Greece in 2001 ensured qualification to the 2002 World Cup and this single moment elevated him to national hero status.

From then on Beckham was idolised by many which has culminated in him maturing into the globally respected icon admired by many today. He is now a brand name in his own right.

David Beckham now commands major influence around the world. He is currently playing at Paris St Germain where he has already given French football the exposure that it deserves. How many people have tuned in to at least one PSG game this season when normally they wouldn’t have? The hierarchy at PSG have made a shrewd move by signing Beckham and not only for financial reasons.

Similarly in the United States, Beckham has had a huge influence on the MLS and  the exposure it has received. His sheer presence has given American Soccer a boost and has made it an attractive proposition for both investors and major footballers from around the world. Similarly MLS players are receiving exposure and have been signed by some clubs from the top European leagues. Soccer will never be the number one sport in America but there is no doubt Beckham has improved its popularity.

Arguably Beckham has done more for the sport in America than both Pele and George Best could ever do.

Beckham has always been active in helping to promote other events. He is deeply proud of being British and has played a major role in the successful Olympic bid and the ultimately unsuccessful World Cup bid. He has more recently promoted Chinese football by becoming an ambassador for the game in China.

Charities also benefit greatly from Beckham’s name and this shows the caring side of a man who has come a long way since his early playing career.

There is no doubt that Beckham is earning a fortune from all his roles both in and outside of football but he is using his influence wisely and becoming a respected house-hold name across the world.

Once his football career is over I am sure Beckham can go on to influence much more and not just within footballing circles. He is now a man who is admired by many and has matured over the years into the great person he is today. Beckham is no longer just a footballer.

 

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