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As a schoolboy, David Beckham represented the county of Essex, had trials with Leyton Orient and attended Tottenham Hotspur's school of excellence.
After signing for Manchester United as a trainee on 8 July 1991, he helped the club to win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, scoring in the second leg of the final against Crystal Palace.
Several months later, on 23 September 1992, David made his first team debut as a substitute in the Rumbelows Cup tie at Brighton and Hove Albion. However, he then had to wait a further two-and-a-half years to make his League debut.
During this time, he collected a runners-up medal in the 1993 FA Youth Cup (United lost to Leeds in the final) and a reserve team championship medal in 1994. He also played five matches on loan for Preston North End, scoring two goals for the Lancashire club.
David eventually made his Premier League debut at home to Leeds United on 2 April 1995, but it was in the following season, 1995/96, that he really established himself in the first team.
David played predominantly in the right midfield position that had been vacated by Andrei Kanchelskis, and started to show the knack for scoring great goals, including the winner in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. The season ended with United winning their second Double.
David started the next campaign, 1996/97, by scoring his most famous goal - from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. He went on to earn his first senior cap for England, on 1 September 1996 against Moldova in Kishinev. He had previously been capped at youth and Under-21 level.
David's match-winning performances during 1996/97 helped United to win another Premiership title and reach the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. On a personal level, he was voted Young Player of the Year and second in the overall Player of the Year poll.
The 1997/98 season was a disappointing one for United as they finished second to Arsenal in the League, lost to Barnsley in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Monaco. There was some consolation for David, though, when he was selected for England's World Cup Finals squad.
The 1998 World Cup Finals provided mixed feelings for David, and were later seen as something of a turning point in his career. After being left out of the starting line-up for the first two matches, he then scored a stunning free-kick for England against Colombia and was hailed a national hero. He was later branded a villain, however, when he was sent off for a foul on Diego Simeone as England were knocked out in the second round by Argentina. It was the first red card of David's career.
Some experts predicted that his World Cup problems could lead to David's exit from English football, but he knuckled down to prove them all wrong. In the first League game of the 1998/99 season against Leicester City, he curled in one of his trademark free-kicks to prevent defeat.
In March 1999 he became a father to Brooklyn, whose name appeared on his boots when United completed the unprecedented Treble of Premiership, FA Cup and European Cup. In July 1999, David married Victoria Adams, better known as 'Posh', a member of the Spice Girls pop group.
The 1999/2000 season was another successful one for David, despite all the press hype caused by a new haircut and a high-profile argument with Sir Alex Ferguson.
The midfielder picked up his fourth Premiership winner's medal, and was voted second best player in Europe and the World. Rivaldo of Barcelona and Brazil pipped him to both awards. David also finished runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, losing out to boxing champion Lennox Lewis.
The major highlights of David's 2000/01 season were on the international stage, although he again won the Premiership title with United, having scored in three matches in a row early in the campaign.
David proudly captained England for the first time in a friendly in Italy and then kept the armband for the friendly with Spain and the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Finland, against whom he scored an important goal at Anfield, home of Liverpool FC.
He saved the most important goal for Old Trafford, however, and his last-gasp goal against Greece in October 2001 secured England's place at the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. After breaking a metatarsal bone in his left foot against Deportivo la Coruna, the nation waited to see if the inspirational captain would be fit to lead Sven's men in the Far East.
In the end, he recovered but was not fully fit as England drew 1-1 with Sweden before Becks' penalty beat pre-tournament favourites Argentina. A 0-0 draw with Nigeria took David and the lads through to the second round where a comprehensive 3-0 win over Denmark set up a quarter-final against Brazil. The Samba Kings was a step too far for England, however, and they lost 2-1 before coming home to a heroes' welcome. What a difference four years makes.
The 2002/03 season again saw Beckham make headlines both on and off the pitch. He found the net eleven times in total - but only once in the Premiership, on the last day of the season at Goodison Park. A stray boot, kicked in frustration by Sir Alex Ferguson, accidentally struck Becks on the forehead in the dressing room and ensured more tabloid coverage for the England captain. That was nothing compared to the frenzy at the end of the season where he was linked with moves to Real Madrid, AC Milan and Barcelona after winning his sixth League title with United.
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