Beckham has been the 'most influential' English player of his generation, says Gary Neville

The former right-back believes that his old team-mate and long-time friend, who announced his retirement on Thursday, has had an "enormous" impact on modern football
Gary Neville believes that former Manchester United and England team-mate David Beckham is one of the most influential footballers of his generation.

The midfielder, who announced his retirement from football on Thursday, played alongside Neville for both club and country for over a decade and the former right-back feels that the 38-year-old has had an impressive impact on world football.

“When you think about the way football has changed over the last 22 years, Beckham has been probably the most influential player of that time out of England in terms of transforming football,” Neville told Sky Sports News.

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“To go and play in Madrid, Milan, Paris and Los Angeles, he's transported England around the world as well.

“I think that is something he is aware of and something he always wanted to do. The impact that he's had is enormous.”

Beckham’s decision to retire comes days after the midfielder won his latest title with French club Paris Saint-Germain and Neville believes the veteran midfielder has picked the right time to hang up his boots.

“He feels like it's the right time. This has been a huge week in terms of retirements with Scholes, Ferguson and now David but he just feels he's taken it as far as he can,” Neville continued.

“He wants to come home, after being away for twenty-two years. He's finishing on a high with another Championship, four in four countries is just an incredible achievement.”

Beckham, who won the Champions League with Manchester United in 1999, also won league titles with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy before arriving in the French capital earlier this year after signing a short-term contract.

“You look back at his career and you think ‘wow’ what an achievement. It’s an incredible array of caps and medals but he just wants to be remembered as a hard working footballer and someone who worked as hard as he could to be the best,” the England coach added.

Beckham is the latest player of his generation to hang up his boots, following in the footsteps of Paul Scholes and Sir Alex Ferguson to retire in the past week alone, and Neville feels it is an emotional time as a special era for Manchester United in particular is coming to an end.

“It's the end of an era - the most successful era of a football club. Ferguson’s retirement was a huge moment but now we have Scholes and Beckham. It feels like an end of a generation but football will go on and we'll look back at these people as hugely influential in football.”