Football

David Beckham: Happy 40th birthday, 'Golden Balls'

Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT) January 12, 2017
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His wife famously called him "Golden Balls" -- and David Beckham has the Midas Touch both on and off the football pitch. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/file
Now turning into something of a senior statesman since hanging up his boots in 2013, the boy from east London turned 40 on May 2, 2015. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images/file
Here he is pictured with two of the people responsible for helping him become a global phenomenon, transcending his status as a football star: his wife Victoria (right) and "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller (left). Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AEG/file
When he started out as a youth player at Manchester United, there was little indication Beckham would be a fashion icon around the world. Shaun Botterill/Allsport/file
There were the haircuts, such as this corn-row style sported while representing England in 2003. Phil Cole/Getty Images/file
After leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2003, his follicles were regularly the focus of media attention. Here a shaven-headed Beckham promotes his first official training skills DVD -- "Really Bend It Like Beckham," a title referring to the 2002 British film starring a young Keira Knightley as an aspiring footballer. MJ Kim/Getty Images
Although Beckham's life is under constant media scrutiny, sometimes he likes to tease -- here hiding his new hairstyle during a training session in Madrid. PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images/file
Two days later his new blond look was unveiled during Real's match against Athletic Bilbao, with the big-spending club winning the Spanish league title in Beckham's final season there. RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images/file
Having moved to American club Los Angeles Galaxy later in 2007, David Beckham sported this variant on his earlier mohawk look. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/file
Like father, like son: the Beckhams' third offspring Cruz with his dad at an NBA game in LA in 2009. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/file
While still an LA player, Beckham made two loan moves back to Europe with Italian club AC Milan during Major League Soccer's offseason. Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images/file
Beckham's sculpted body is heavily tattooed. This is a closeup of his hand taken during the "United for Wildlife" conservation campaign launch in 2014. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images/file
The previous year, Beckham showed this tattoo to fans in Beijing, having been named an international ambassador by the China Football Association. It reportedly says, "Death and life have determined appointments. Riches and honor depend upon heaven." Lintao Zhang/Getty Images/file
This Gothic winged cross on his neck, unveiled ahead of the 2004 European Championships, is just above the name of his first son Brooklyn. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images/file
All four children feature on his skin -- and on his boots -- while Victoria's name is inked in Sanskrit on his left forearm. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images/file
Victoria, formerly one of the all-conquering Spice Girls pop group, is credited with transforming Beckham from a floppy-haired footballer into a fashion designer's dream. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/file
From wobbly-voiced pouting singer, the former "Posh Spice" has become a respected award-winning designer, even guest editing for the French version of Vogue in December 2013. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images/file
His many underwear adverts have earned him a following among men and women alike. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images/file
In 1998, Beckham was widely mocked for wearing a sarong -- but his "metrosexual" look was at the forefront of a new sensitive male image emerging from the lager-fueled UK "Lad culture" of that decade. SINEAD LYNCH/AFP/Getty Images/file
"Posh and Becks" regularly mix with Hollywood glitterati. They are seen here arriving in Italy for the 2006 wedding between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Beckham is reportedly flying Cruise and other friends to Morocco for his 40th birthday party. Giuseppe Cacace/Getty Images/file
In 2011, they attended the British royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images/file
Beckham's children have grown up in the media glare surrounding him -- here he is pictured with sons (L-R) Cruz, Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham during a diving event at the 2012 London Olympics. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images/file
Daughter Harper, born in 2011, attended a presentation of her mom's work at the New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter shows in February 2014. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images/file
Here the family attend the press night of "Viva Forever," a musical based on the career of the Spice Girls, in December 2012. Stuart Wilson/Getty Images/file
Beckham also took his boys to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they attended the final between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium. Michael Steele/Getty Images/file
The Beckhams have been a picture of family unity since weathering the media storm of 2004, when it was widely reported that David had an affair with his PA Rebecca Loos, who in the aftermath created her own career as a minor reality TV celebrity. The footballer vigorously denied claims of any infidelity. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images/file
Here Ted Beckham watches his son playing the final game of his top-level career, for Paris Saint-Germain in May 2013. Beckham joined the French club on a five-month deal after leaving the U.S. and donated his reported $4.3 million salary to a children's charity. Michael Regan/Getty Images/file
While his father's love of Manchester United inspired Beckham's early career, his mother Sandra's vocation -- hairdressing -- may have had a large influence in his appearance. Here she is pictured with Beckham's sister Joanne during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images/file
Beckham's most glorious achievement at Manchester United came when the club won a treble of trophies in 1999, capped by a last-gasp win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. United came from behind to triumph 2-1, with both goals scored in stoppage time and resulting from Beckham's corners. Phil Cole/Allsport/file
Alex Ferguson brought Beckham into United's first team as part of the now venerated "Class of '92" youth side. They won six Premier League titles together but their relationship deteriorated as Beckham's celebrity persona blossomed -- and the Scottish manager's infamous kicking of a boot into the player's head in the Old Trafford dressing-room after an FA Cup defeat in 2003 precipitated his move to Real Madrid. Ben Radford/Getty Images/file
Beckham won his first international cap in 1996 at the age of 21, in a World Cup qualifying match against Moldova. Getty Images/file
He was selected for the 1998 World Cup but was vilified back home after being sent off for petulantly kicking out at Argentina captain Diego Simeone as England painfully exited in the second round following a penalty shootout. GERARD CERLES/AFP/Getty Images/file
As well as facing vitriol over the World Cup debacle, the seemingly effeminate Beckham was an easy target for fans at rival Premier League clubs. Here he blows a kiss to Chelsea supporters during United's run to winning the FA Cup in '99. Stu Forster/Allsport/file
Beckham received his 100th cap from Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton in 2008 and the midfielder went on to play 115 times at the top level -- the most by any English outfield player and second only behind goalkeeper Peter Shilton's 125 internationals. Michael Reagan-Pool/Getty Images/file
Beckham's shock move to America helped grow the nascent MLS and boost soccer's image in a country where it was previously a minority sport. He sold a reported 300,000 replica shirts each season of his half-decade stay in LA, winning two MLS Cup titles. Harry How/Getty Images/file
However, Beckham had to win over LA fans after his deal was said to be worth $250 million -- which later turned out to be a publicity stunt by his agents: his contract was actually for $32.5M plus add-ons. Galaxy fans were also angered by reports Beckham was seeking a permanent move to Milan, where he suffered an Achilles injury that ruled him out of the 2010 World Cup and much of that MLS season. DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images/file
Beckham's move to Qatar-owned PSG gave him kudos in the Middle East. He presented the winner's trophy to tennis player David Ferrer at the 2015 Qatar Open in Doha. KARIM JAAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images/file
He has reportedly sought help from PSG's owners in funding his new Miami MLS franchise, which has been beset by stadium delays since it was announced in February 2014. Beckham had a clause in his Galaxy contract giving him the right to buy a new team for $25 million once he'd stopped playing. Alexia Fodere/AFP/Getty Images/file
Among his charity projects, Beckham is a UNICEF ambasador. Here he plays with Filipino children who survived Typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 6,000 people in late 2013 and devastated large areas of Southeast Asia. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images/file
Beckham launched his own soccer academy in 2005, with bases in London and Los Angeles. Both closed within five years during the global economic crisis. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images/file
Beckham is now firmly established among the world's most powerful figures -- here he and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy watch PSG play in a Champions League match in February 2015. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images/file
In 2005, he helped London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympics. Here he is pictured with then British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) and his wife Cherie Blair. John Gichigi/Getty Images/file
Beckham played a high-profile role in London's opening ceremony, driving a speedboat carrying the Olympic torch under Tower Bridge and down to the Stratford host venue near where he grew up. Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images/file
Beckham was less successful as a member of England's bid team for the 2018 World Cup. He is pictured here with fellow ambassadors Prince William and UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 ahead of the controversial vote in which Russia won the right to stage soccer's showpiece event. Anthony Devlin - Pool/Getty Images/file
Beckham now promotes a niche single-grain whiskey and is the face of the Las Vegas Sands chain, which runs casinos in Singapore and Macau among its resort ventures. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images/file
So what's next for Becks? Ian Gavan/Getty Images/file