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What's Best About Beckham?

Dec 17, 2007
The measure of an athlete on the world stage is not simply how popular or highly regarded they are in their own sport, but how well known they are to people outside of the sport. When an athlete breaks the bounds of their own notoriety and becomes a household name to people who can't name anything else in their sport of choice they are truly a superstar. In the United States, where soccer is not a widely known sport and most Americans haven't been able to name a player since Pele, David Beckham's name resounds. What is it about David Beckham that makes his name synonymous with the game?

On the field

David Beckham started his professional career in the 1994 -- 95 season for Manchester United. By 1996 Beckham was the name repeated frequently by media and fans alike. As his outstanding plays pushed Manchester United farther than they ever dreamed they would go, his signature free kick and seeming ability to bend the ball around defenders or kick it over the heads of goalies became a stunning example of the grace behind the game. Beckham also became known for his outstanding discipline and willingness train and craft his soccer ability, as well as helping others on his team to develop training regimens and create the best of professional play. Many teammates credit his professional attitude and inspirational play for their ability to recover in hard fought games and persevere to championship.

Off the field

Any player who achieves athletic recognition in a sport as popular internationally as soccer also achieves name recognition. For David Beckham this recognition was the start of a series of international endorsements for products, companies and fashion lines. At one point, he was a spokesperson for a fashion line, hairstylist, exercise routine, a spa and Disneyland. His status as a fashion plate, has brought him attention for his neat appearance and an unwanted moniker when he was listed in 2002 by salon.com as a stunning example of a metrosexual. His reputation as someone as interested in his appearance as he is his on-field statistics followed him throughout his career and lead to even more fame and fortune. While he adamantly responded to the charges of metro sexuality by proclaiming his love for wife Victoria Beckham, he also admits to being a victim of obsessive-compulsive disorder and having a need for his appearance to please him. This humble pronouncement only served to raise Beckham's image in the eyes of his peers.

In the news

Of course, not all of David Beckham's press is good for him. His marriage to Victoria Adams, also known as Posh Spice, gained him more media attention than playing for his team. Many English fans began to see him as a star and not an athlete. His recent move to Los Angeles, California as part of the Los Angeles Galaxy team, and his subsequent purchase of a house in Hollywood Hills has led many to speculate he has lost focus for the game that he loves.

Only time will tell if the lasting legacy of David Beckham will be his free kick, his wife, or his image. What we know now is that his discipline and skill on the soccer field have translated into unforgettable games and a wonderful life.
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