Despite hanging up his boots in 2013, David Beckham remains one of the most famous football stars on the planet. This stature wasn’t built solely on the pitch, admittedly. With his model good looks, celebrity wife, and off-the-field exploits, Beckham regularly caused the British tabloids to go into a frenzy reporting about every minute detail of his life. A different Beckham haircut would gain more column inches than most football match reports.
However, his footballing achievements cannot be overlooked. Beckham earned 115 caps with England, 59 as captain. He became the first Englishman to amass 100 appearances in the Champions League. He was also the first Englishman to become a league winner in four separate countries. Plus in 1999, he was runner-up for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award – a testament that he was more than just a set-piece specialist.
While these awards and accomplishments are fantastic in their own right, they pale in comparison to the overall impact Beckham has had on the beautiful game.
The Man United Effect
Before he started his globetrotting journey to Spain, the USA, Italy, and France, Beckham built his at Manchester United. During his spell at Old Trafford, Beckham helped the team to six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and the Champions League – and was a major influence in their historic 1998-1999 treble-winning season.
He was one of the biggest reasons why Man United remerged as a world footballing powerhouse. Sure, he was supported by a cast of elite footballers and arguably the greatest manager of all time. Yet the combination of his talent and popularity helped to take the club to new heights.Embed from Getty Images
And yet perhaps Beckham’s biggest impact on football has come away from the pitch. While the sport gave him his platform, Beckham built a branding empire. While other players appeared in advert campaigns and had boot deals, Beckham went the extra mile by gaining control of his image rights.
This led to “Brand Beckham” dominating the world. Well, not quite – but he was endorsing everything from aftershave to underwear. By understanding his brand’s power, he has also ensured its longevity. There’s a reason why, according to research from CashLady, Beckham has amassed a net worth close to half a billion dollars.
Beckham’s groundwork paved the way for the current generation of footballers, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Paul Pogba, to create their own brands.
The USA factor
He may not go down as the greatest player for his team, the LA Galaxy, but his influence has caused a greater impact than his on-field exploits could ever manage.
Beckham opened the floodgates for other major football stars – including Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Robbie Keane and Kaka – to venture into the MLS.
Now having started his own MLS franchise with Inter Miami, Beckham’s effect on football in the States may reach even greater heights.