The decision made by British football legend David Beckham, who played his last game with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) on Saturday, to end his 20-year career has come as a major surprise to some of his former associates and competitors.
John Burridge, a goalkeeper coach at the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) al-Wasl football club, told Al Arabiya English that he was surprised to see Beckham retire so soon.
Burridge added that he thought Beckham would have even considered coming to the Middle East.
“He’s so fit, I thought he was going to play a couple more seasons at PSG or even in the Middle East,” said Burridge, who played against him in his former club Newcastle FC.
In December 2012, reports in the media claimed Beckham had plans to end his footballing career in the Middle East. These rumors surfaced after he severed his contract with the U.S. football team, LA Galaxy, according to Fox Sports. The TV channel added that UAE club al-Wasl had an eye on him.
Also in December, Beckham visited Dubai and held talks with the with Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, UK’s Daily star reported.
The football star made a debut visit to Dubai while training for AC Milan in 2009, the Telegraph reported.
According to UK's Daily mail the Beckham family is reported to own a property in Dubai’s Jumeirah Palm Island.
Beckham has played all over the world from Manchester United, where he started his career, to Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy, and now currently Qatari owned-PSG .
Beckham signed his six-month contract with PSG in February this year. The club President Nasser al-Khelaifi wants Beckham to carry on working with the club after retirement, saying Friday that the footballer is “very interested to continue being involved,” the Associated Press reported.
Beckham “believes in the club, he loves the club,” said Khelaifi, who expressed hope that an agreement would be reached within the next two weeks.
The timing of the decision was right “because of the opportunities that have come up for him,” former footballer Carlton Lloyd Palmer, who played against Beckham in the English Premier League, and owns the Carlton Palmer Football Academy in Dubai, told Al Arabiya.
Following in the steps of other football players, Beckham is reportedly looking to pursue owning his own team in the United States.
In 2009 Beckham said "I have the right to own a franchise, which I will action immediately after I stop playing," BBC Sports reported.
Despite Beckham moving in-between teams, fans from around the Middle East say they will always remember the football legend.
“He was and forever will be remembered as one of the greats at Manchester United honored by wearing the no.7 shirt, also worn by, George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, and Cristiano Ronaldo,” Omar Othman , Head of Marketing, UAE-based Manchester United Supporters Club.
He added, “his achievements on and off the pitch will forever be remembered.”
Beckham joined The Red Devils when he was 11-years old and remained playing for the club for 11 years. Beckham helped win six Premier League titles along with Champions League trophies.
Fans flooded Twitter and YouTube with pictures and videos honoring the 38-year-old’s accomplishments.
Beckham said he was “thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue, but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level.”
PSG’s last game is away to Lorient on May 26, 2013.