Cheers, David, it's been a kick

Updated: 2013-05-18 11:04

(China Daily/Agencies)

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Football Association chairman David Bernstein described Beckham as "an iconic figure", while former United teammate and close friend Gary Neville saluted his impact on English soccer.

"He had incredible stamina and energy. He was a joy to play with," said Neville.

"And when you think back on the way football has changed over the last 22 years, he has probably been the most influential player in that time out of England in terms of transforming football."

England manager Roy Hodgson said he hoped Beckham would remain in the game.

"I'm rather hoping we'll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player," he said.

Former England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson paid tribute to "a fantastic football player, a fantastic man", while FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "It's the end of a chapter of an amazing story.

"David grew up as a football loving child and achieved his dreams, and unquestionably inspired millions of boys and girls to try and do the same."

As one of Britain's most recognizable figures, Beckham also worked as an ambassador for last year's London Olympics and carried the Olympic flame to the opening ceremony in a glitzy speedboat ride down the River Thames.

British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe said Beckham had been "a constant source of support and inspiration".

Britain's press, who savaged him back in 1998 when they blamed him for England's World Cup exit after getting himself sent off, were generous in their praise Friday.

"Cheers David", said the front-page headline of popular tabloid The Sun, paying tribute to a "True Brit hero" in a 12-page pullout.

The Daily Mail, The Times and Guardian all ran with the headline "End it Like Beckham," playing on the title of "Bend it Like Beckham" the film that launched Keira Knightley's career.

He is due to play his final game for PSG at Lorient's Stade du Moustoir on May 26.

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