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Farewell to David Beckham, footballer

Agencies | Updated: 2013-05-17 13:24

Farewell to David Beckham, footballer

Manchester United's David Beckham kisses the premiership trophy after winning the English premiership at Old Trafford in Manchester in this May 5, 2001 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Even as he announced his retirement at the age of 38, four years after his 115th and last cap, David Beckham probably scoured Roy Hodgson's latest England squad for his name, proudly and defiantly "available for selection" to the end.

Though denigrated for his superstar lifestyle and condemned as nothing more than a vehicle for shifting club shirts in the latter stages of his glittering, peripatetic career, Beckham remained a hugely popular figure throughout his homeland, to fans of all allegiances.

The fundamental reason was that, despite the tsunami of advertising, branding and showbusiness that accompanied his every move, he just loved playing football and loved playing football for England most of all.

"I just want people to see me as a hard-working footballer, someone that's passionate about the game, every time I've stepped on a pitch I've given everything that I have," he said after announcing his retirement on Thursday.

"At the end of my career that's how I look back on it and hope people see me."

Three years ago former England boss Fabio Capello said he thought the then-35-year-old was "probably a bit too old" for international football, but Beckham refused to close the door.

"I will never retire from international football," he said. "If I never get picked again or whether I get picked for one more game or 10 more games I'll be available."

In the latter years of his England career, when he had become a peripheral figure, the announcement of his name over the Wembley PA was nevertheless guaranteed to induce the loudest roar.

Farewell to David Beckham, footballer

Manchester United's David Beckham (R) stands with manager Sir Alex Ferguson before their match against Charlton Athletic in the English premier league match at Old Trafford,Manchester, in this May 11, 2002 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

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