David Beckham at 40 years old: Looking back at his career in quotes

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As David Beckham celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday, we look back on his career in quotes.

From the formative years at Manchester United under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson to the fame, fortune, highs and lows with England and beyond.

Beckham’s journey has been an extraordinary one…

Starting out

He said… “When we all first met we didn't like each other as much as we do now. I think the United lads thought I was a flash cockney. Nicky Butt used to kick lumps out of Gary Neville on a Sunday league pitch. We didn't dislike each other, but we didn't have the relationship we do now. When I look back on our time, it was special.” – David Beckham

They said… “He would stay after training, practising taking free-kicks. He'd be knocking balls against the wall at The Cliff (Manchester United’s old training ground). Whatever he could do to improve, he did it.” – Ben Thornley, Manchester United’s Class of ‘92

Manchester United

They said… “Great players are defined by their ability to influence big matches and in Manchester United’s greatest season of all, 1998-99, he contributed plenty - the delivery of his crosses in the Champions League quarter-final against Inter Milan, scoring in the epic FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park against Arsenal, scoring at Tottenham on the last day of the season, when we won the league; and the corners for Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Champions League final. In fact, he was our best player in that final.” – Gary Neville, Manchester United team-mate

David Beckham celebrates after scoring from the halfway line, during the Premier League match between Wimbledon and Man Utd at Selhurst Park in 1996

He said… “If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhood club Manchester United, I would have told you it was a fantasy. I'm fortunate to have realised those dreams.” – David Beckham

England

He said... “To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country. I knew every time I wore the Three Lions shirt, I was not only following in a long line of great players, I was also representing every fan that cared passionately about their country.” – David Beckham

 David Beckham Captain of England celebrates scoring during the  Group F against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup at the Sapporo Dome

They said… “David is not a man who talks very much but when he does, you listen. He's not the kind of captain who screams or shouts, but I am sure everybody listened to him. None of the players had a problem. When we arrived somewhere the other players used to say 'David, you get off the bus first so we can get into the hotel'. He was a good decoy.” – Sven Goran Eriksson, former England manager

Real Madrid

He said… “It's a tough challenge but if I didn't believe I could do the job I wouldn't have taken it on. I think I can achieve here. I can and will wear the Real Madrid shirt with pride.” – David Beckham

David Beckham: The former England captain has thrown his support behind Luis Figo

They said… “Beckham is someone who comes 45 minutes early to training and leaves half an hour after everyone has left. He is truly a great professional. Some players today could benefit from his level of professionalism.” – Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid team-mate

Los Angeles Galaxy

He said… “After considering several options to stay in Madrid or join other major British and European teams, I have decided to join LA Galaxy.” – David Beckham

They said… “He brought recognition around the world. Everyone was quite aware of the fact that we had a professional league in the United States. He helped elevate the quality of the league, obviously he helped elevate the focus on the league, and the league's growth during that period of time was unprecedented.” – Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy coach

AC Milan

They said… “Beckham is a great champion. We players don't care what his life is like off the pitch, we have found a lad who has not trained for two and a half months, but I have had the chance to talk to him and I noticed his determination and his great desire to put himself to work immediately to return to playing as soon as possible.” – Paolo Maldini, AC Milan legend

He said… "It's never about money, it's always been about the football. The obvious is giving me the chance to play in the 2010 World Cup. I have to do everything I can do to be involved in that.” – David Beckham

Paris St Germain

He said… “I'm excited, it's something we've been working on and talking about for quite a while. I won't receive any salary. My salary will go to a local children's charity. That's one of the things we are excited and proud to do. Obviously it's a very good figure. That's one thing we're very excited about. To be able to give a huge sum to a children's charity in Paris is very special.” – David Beckham

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 18:  David Beckham is subbed by manager carlo Ancelotti during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Stade Brestois 29 a

They said… “I think he has been very important for us because in the situation that we are in now, the club has been changing from a normal club to a top club, and Beckham gives you some kind of confidence. He has the responsibility, on the pitch and off the pitch, to lead the way for these two months which is very important. He has a quality, a big quality; he has a touch that I haven't seen many players have. And he is very elegant when he play.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG star

Retirement

He said… “It's a difficult decision because I still feel I could play at the top level and have done for the last six months but I always secretly said to myself I want to go out at the top and if you'd have said to me eight months ago I'd be playing in the French league, winning the French league and finishing like this I would have probably said 'absolutely no chance' but I was given the opportunity to come to PSG and I just feel now is the time.” – David Beckham

The Beckhams watched Murray win Wimbledon

They said… “Not just PSG but the football world has lost a fantastic player and a fantastic professional and a good man. In his first training session he was the last to leave. He's a great example for young players. He is really professional, really humble. He really loves football, loves his job, and that is the best quality. I found a very humble player and a very humble man. He has had a fantastic career.” – Carlo Ancelotti, then PSG boss

Criticism

They said… “David was the only player I managed who chose to be famous, who made it his mission to be known outside the game. He lost the chance to become an absolute top-dog player. He wanted to give it all up for a new career, a new lifestyle, for stardom. There was no footballing reason for him to go to America. He was giving up top-level football. You should never surrender what you’re good at.” – Sir Alex Ferguson, legendary Manchester United manager

David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson at the San Siro

He said… “At the end of the day I'm a footballer that has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world and played with some of the best players in the world; played under some of the biggest and best managers and achieved almost everything in football and I think of course it hurts when people, not question it, but think about other things.” – David Beckham

Legacy

They said… “He’s a fantastic person and one who has been an unbelievable ambassador for this country, not just on the football field. But it is on the football field where he should probably be best remembered. His CV reads Manchester United, LA Galaxy, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain. They are the biggest clubs in world football. He has not just gone to these clubs and been a bit-part player. He has gone to these clubs and made an impact.” – Phil Neville, Manchester United and England team-mate

He said… “I just want people to see me as a hard working footballer. Someone that's passionate about the game and someone that every time I stepped on the pitch I've given everything that I have because that's how I feel.” – David Beckham

Future

They said… “I'm rather hoping we'll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player.” – Roy Hodgson, England manager

Sky Academy

He said… “Mentors and role models have always been important to me. When I was young, they helped me to believe in myself and gave me the confidence to follow my dreams. That’s what Sky Academy will do and I’m excited to be a part of it.” – David Beckham

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