UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has paid tribute to former England captain David Beckham, calling him "a true football icon of his generation" after selecting the former Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF midfielder to receive the 2018 UEFA President's Award.
"The President's Award recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities," said Mr Ceferin. “I have chosen David Beckham as the recipient of this year's award because he has been a global ambassador for football, promoting the game and all its values in every corner of the planet. His tireless humanitarian efforts, which have helped the lives of many children around the world, should also be celebrated. Beckham is a true football icon of his generation."
Beckham, who will receive this award in Monaco later this year, made 762 appearances for club and country, scoring 130 goals and delivering many more assists in a career that spanned over 20 years. He won the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United in 1999, helping his boyhood club defeat FC Bayern Munchen 2-1 in one of the most thrilling finals in the history of the competition.
"It is an honour for me to receive the UEFA President's Award," said Beckham, who was the first Englishman to make 100 appearances in the UEFA Champions League. "During my career I always gave 100% and tried to uphold the values of teamwork and fair play and I am proud to join the illustrious list of players who have previously won this award. Many of the unforgettable moments I had on the pitch came in the UEFA Champions League, such as that magic night in Barcelona in 1999 when we beat Bayern in such dramatic fashion."
Aside from his successes on the pitch, the 43-year-old Beckham has also worked selflessly off the field to improve the lives of those living in hardship and poverty. In 2015, he set up 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, which is aimed at helping children by tackling issues such as bullying, violence and child marriage, while also ensuring youngsters have the chance to attend school and have an education.
"My career in football allowed me to actively participate in helping to improve the lives of numerous children across the globe in cooperation with UNICEF and it gives me great pleasure that I am able to give something back to society," Beckham explained. "When people believe in you, you believe in yourself. By giving children, especially girls, the support they need, my 7 Fund is helping them realise their potential."
After spending almost a decade with Manchester United, where he also won six Premier League titles, he moved to Real Madrid where he would spend the next four years. A stint at LA Galaxy followed, sandwiched between loan spells at AC Milan, before he finished his illustrious career at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013.
Beckham is one of a select band of English players to have been capped over 100 times for their country. He made a total of 115 appearances, scoring 17 goals and had the honour of playing in three FIFA World Cups and two UEFA EUROs.
He was named in the UEFA Team of the Year on two occasions in 2001 and 2003, while in 1999, he was the runner-up behind Rivaldo in the Ballon d'Or.
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