Tearful David Beckham ends his career with PSG title
Former England captain who mixed on-pitch brilliance with celebrity gets send-off with Beatles music, teammates hugs and fans cheering
With Beatles music ringing in his ears and tears in his eyes, David Beckham admitted that his starring role in Paris Saint-Germain's French title party was the last chapter of his colourful career.
The former England captain, one of the most high-profile players to shuffle between soccer and celebrity, made his final home appearance for the Ligue 1 champions on Saturday before heading into retirement.
Although PSG have one more game to play, this coming weekend's meaningless fixture on an unforgiving synthetic pitch at humble Lorient will almost certainly see Beckham watching from the sidelines.
"We have one more game officially, but it's a plastic surface and it was only a few years ago that I ruptured my Achilles [tendon]. So whether or not I play, who knows?," said Beckham, 38, after PSG marked their Ligue 1 triumph with a 3-1 win over relegated Brest.
PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi, who guides Qatar's huge financial stake in the Paris club, is convinced that the Beckham story is over.
"Up to the coach, but basically I think that will be the last match for him," Khelaifi said.
Beckham, who rose from modest beginnings in east London to amass a fortune of £165 million (HK$1.94 billion), has been linked with plenty of career possibilities.
They range from promotional roles with PSG and China and British Sky Sports television, to buying a stake in a United States club in Major League Soccer where he has already played for Los Angeles Galaxy.
But, as befits a sports diplomat in the making, Beckham preferred to concentrate on the end of his brief, five-month stay with PSG rather than the unfamiliar challenges of retirement.
The stadium gave him a standing ovation as he left the pitch 10 minutes from time in floods of tears at the end of an evening, which had seen him handed the captain's armband by coach Carlo Ancelotti.
He was saluted by a guard of honour from his teammates before he climbed the podium to receive his Ligue 1 title medal.
Draped in an English flag and serenaded by the Beatles' Hello, Goodbye, a laser show accompanied a brief video highlights reel of his time with the club. It concluded with the words: "Thank you David."
"The emotions started kicking in about 20 minutes before I went off. It was hard to even run and kick the ball. And to see the reaction of the players was really special," he said.
With 25 members of his family looking on - including his parents and wife Victoria - Beckham admitted that his own sons had already made off with the match-day souvenirs.
"The boys nicked my boots and shorts and medal," Beckham told Sky Sports.
"The experience has been the best. I feel so lucky to have had this profession for 20 years. It's very special and to go out like this, it could not be any more perfect."
Beckham said he felt humbled by being named captain.
"When the manager told me, it was really special. To be an Englishman as captain on a night, which meant so much to the fans. It was an amazing gesture and I will always be thankful for it."
Last week, Beckham had helped PSG to their first league title since 1994 with a win over Lyon, and then announced he would retire at the end of the season having captured a championship in a fourth different league - he had already succeeding with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Galaxy.
"Thanks to everyone in Paris, to all of my teammates, the staff and fans," Beckham said at the trophy presentation. "It has been very special to finish my career here.
I now want to enjoy time with my family. I have all the memories I need.
"Paris has always been one of the world's most beautiful places for me and I am very sad to be leaving."
On the pitch, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice, while Beckham had a hand in the other PSG goal, a trademark corner finding Blaise Matuidi to hit the target.