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David Beckham, the 38-year old icon, announced on Thursday 16 May 2021 that he will retire from football at the end of the current season after a long, illustrious and successful career. Beckham won league titles in four different countries and England’s most famous footballer said he was “thankful to PSG (his current club) for giving me the opportunity to continue, but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level.”

Beckham will be remembered most for his period at Manchester United but while at LA Galaxy he spent two spells in 2009 and 2010 on loan at AC Milan. Beckham was unfortunately not able to win any silverware with the Rossoneri but his influence and impact cannot be undermined. On the notice of his retirement, Milan was quick to pay tribute to David Beckham with an announcement on their website. On 30 October 2008, Milan announced that Beckham was to join them on loan from 7 January 2009. The transfer was met with wide-spread scepticism across all spheres as many thought it was a publicity stunt by Milan and others wondered if a then 33 year-old still could still compete at the highest level in Europe.

Those that knew Beckham well understood that it was a challenge he would overcome. However, to the extent he was able to adapt, impose and positively affect those around him could not have been foreseen. What was originally supposed to be a two month loan spell was extended until 30 June 2009.

“I’ve done really well in my career, I’ve played for so many great clubs and I’ve been able to help myself stay in Milan, if I can put it that way,” he said on Sky Sports News regarding the extension of his loan spell. “My career has always been about playing football. People have talked about the money I’ve earned in my career but it’s never been about money for me, it’s always been about the football and my passion for football.”

It was exactly that passion, hard-work and determination that allowed Beckham to succeed in a totally new
environment. In 18 appearances under then head coach Carlo Ancelotti, Beckham won the hearts of millions of Milan tifosi and calcio fans worldwide.

Regarding the English international Gennaro Gatusso said, “He’s surprised me in a positive way. He’s a great professional, he arrives at training two or three hours early.”

Asked to be employed in various different roles due to injuries suffered during that period to the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gatusso , it was in Italy that Beckham displayed his versatility in full tilt. He played centrally, in a deep lying playmaker position or behind the strikers, he played on the right of a midfield three but wherever Ancelotti played him, Beckham displayed his elegance and football intelligence. His natural ability, understanding of the game, technique and mind was evident for all to see.

The love affair between Milan and Beckham continued the following year as Beckham once more returned
for a loan spell in January 2010. In his first game back for the Rossoneri, Beckham played an influential part in a thrilling 5-2 victory over Genoa. “I’m very happy to have played for Milan again,” Beckham said after the game. “It was an incredible feeling. I haven’t been here for six months but every time I have played for Milan the fans have been incredible.”

The second time around Leonardo was the coach of Milan and there was no obvious position available for
Beckham in the coaches preferred 4-3-3 system. However, Beckham was once again able to adapt himself and become an integral squad player helping the Rossoneri to qualify for Champions League.

David Beckham was the ultimate professional. His passion for football, hard-work, determination and footballing brain allowed him to be successful wherever he went.  And for a short period of time, Italy and AC Milan were privileged enough to have this global superstar grace their fields.

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