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Coin it like Beckham

David Beckham is definitely one of the most popular soccer players in the world. Last year, with an income of $46 million, he was the highest-earning soccer player on the planet.

However, some in Africa or Europe are un-aware that he still plays soccer. In fact, very few children try to mould their playing style to his in the way they try to imitate the style of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Some ask, what is his style of play anyway?

Anything about Beckham is front page news. He is a regular on CNN, BBC and FOX networks sports.

As he bid goodbye to his club, Los Angeles Galaxy, with a second consecutive Major league Soccer Cup title, we ask, what is it about David Beckham? Is he a legendary great player? Is it well-managed hype? Is he a well-choreographed entertainer?

In a Professional career that has spanned 20 years,Beckham has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy, where he played for five-and-a-half years.

He played and captained the English National team, where he holds the appearance record for an outfield player, second overall to goalkeeper David Seaman.

At age 17 he debuted for the legendary Manchester United under the tutelage of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, who once said, “Beckham practiced with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn't care about."

At United he won six premier league titles, two FA Cup trophies and, in 1999, the prestigious Uefa Champions League. In fact his trademark corner kick provided the Norwegian Ole Solksjaer with the opportunity to score the winning Goal v Bayern Munich.

In 2003 he fell out of favour with Sir Alex Ferguson, who at one point threw a soccer boot at his face, cutting him under the eye. He exited to Real Madrid, where he played for four years, winning the La Liga title in his final season in the company of great players like Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo.

He played under Fabio Capello and, when his relationship with management was strained in early 2007, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón and manager Fabio Capello praised Beckham for maintaining his professionalism and commitment to the club. He eventually left the club for LA Galaxy in 2007.

While a Galaxy player, he spent two loan spells in Italy with AC Milan in 2009 and 2010 and, with victories last season and this recent one, he joined elite group of players to have won three league titles in three different countries.

Four years after his debut in the Barclays Premier League at age 21, he debuted with the English national team in 1996 and in 2000 he became the national team captain.

Surprisingly to many, David Beckham has been twice runner up for Fifa’s World Player of the Year. He was also the first English player to play 100 champions League Games, ahead of the legendary Ryan Giggs.

David Beckham has a playboy status and is no stranger to scandal. There were the infidelity scandals, the head on collision with Sir Alex Ferguson, the captainship battles with national team Coach Steve McLaren, his exclusion from the Real Madrid Team but all through this, he has stayed married to Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, was blessed with four children and has always come out a winner in these scandals.

All the above said, I must confess that overall he has not the technical qualities to be among the best players in the world. For a winger he is not very enterprising in one-on-one situations and prefers to pass on the ball and demand a return in his running path to deliver killer, precise pull outs or passes. He is not aerially supreme and cannot carry a team individually like Zidane, Messi, Maradona, Ronaldo da Lima and Cristiano Ronaldo.

A careful look at this 'fella' will reveal that he is very smart and has probably the best team of advisers or managers in the history of soccer managing his affairs.

He is the first to acknowledge his limitations, strong points and he works very hard on qualities only practice improves.

He is a great passer of the ball, to millimetres precision. I once asked Zinedine Zidane in Madrid what it was like playing with him and he confided in me: “He might not be the most gifted dribbler, but he works his backside off till the point of no return.”

He always makes the right choices. After the fall out with Manchester United, he moved on to real Madrid (at the time bigger and better rated in the soccer world) and, with the inherent superstar talented teammates he had to collaborate with, all he could do was win on and off the pitch.

Before most of the world got it, he understood the off-the-pitch soccer. He is quite a good looking ‘fella’ and hence his constant change of looks to improve his star image and attract female fans. He is immaculately well dressed and hence became a priceless item to designers and the fashion world. End result? More fame off the pitch that improved his market value to clubs. He not only brought in more fans to the stadium but more money to any club that could afford his services, through merchandising income.

At 37 years of age he is way past his prime but still influential. He was one of the British organisers of the Olympics in London. Though injured and not selectable, he participated as part of the technical crew of the English national team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and now, as the curtain draws down on his active playing career, he is rumored to be heading to the second division team, AS Monaco of France. How could this be after refusing the Paris St Germain offer In the summer?

Well here is the trick: Monaco represents free taxing of wealth and income and, in a more and more socialist French society and Europe in general, with his wealth worth more than €125 million, where else can he gradually secure his wealth while living just an hour’s flight from his home country, England? Another well thought out move did you say?

In Summary, he may not be a Messi-like kind of player but he has long understood what players like Cristiano Ronaldo are realising now; football is not just a sport, it is a business and entertainment. David Beckham is a well-choreographed, hardworking entertainer and probably the best all round individual football product ever manufactured.

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