'A phenomenal talent' - Bruce among Manchester United heroes praising Beckham

The 38-year-old announced that he will be retiring from football at the end of the season and a number of respected former Red Devils have been quick to praise his contribution
By Russell Stoddart

Steve Bruce is among the former Manchester United stars queueing up to hail the "phenomenal talent" of David Beckham after the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Despite being offered a one-year contract extension, the ex-England captain will bow out after the final two games of the Ligue 1 campaign and Sammy McIlroy and Mickey Thomas joined Bruce and former Arsenal manager George Graham in paying tribute.

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"David was a great player and a terrific lad," the Hull City boss told Goal. "I was lucky to be with him at the start of his career at United and saw him develop into a phenomenal talent.

"He is a credit not just to his country and the clubs he has served but to himself. Despite everything else in his life, he has never lost the desire to play football."

Former Gunners and Tottenham manager Graham hailed the effort that Beckham put into being the best that he could be, pointing to him as a role model for aspiring youngsters.

"David wasn't as gifted as the Lionel Messis and Cristiano Ronaldos of this world but he got the maximum out of his talent," he observed.

"He has been a fantastic role model to young players, not just in football but in other sports, with his dedication to the game and leading the right kind of life.

"There are so many highlights of his career but I would imagine the one that gave him particular satisfaction was scoring that last-minute equaliser against Greece at Old Trafford to book England's place in World Cup 2002."

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"It must have been really difficult for him to retire because he loves the game so much," observed McIlroy, "but I think he's going out at the right time. I watched him playing for PSG in the Champions League against Barcelona and he was on the fringes of the game.

"He has always had remarkable standards and, at 38 years of age, perhaps he knew he couldn't keep up those standards any more."

Beckham has won league titles in four different countries, starring for Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy before joining PSG in January and ex-Red Devils winger Thomas was surprised by the announcement.

"It is a bit of a shock that he is retiring this summer because he is a fit guy and capable of playing into his forties, like his former United team-mate Ryan Giggs," he remarked.

"He is one of those people who commands respect on and off the pitch and that's why he has been a great ambassador for English sport.

"My abiding memory of him as a United fan is probably the goal he scored from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. We realised there and then that we had a special talent."