David Beckham's vision extended off the field, where the Englishman excelled at set pieces and crosses, to how he saw the evolving modern game, according to Tim Cahill.
At the age of 38, Beckham announced his retirement from professional soccer this week. He will play one more game for Paris Saint-Germain, where the English midfielder spent half a season.
"I think he just sees the bigger picture," Cahill said. "I think he understands soccer and how he can develop the game. He could go to any country in the world and put crowds in the stadiums."
Prior to moving to France, Beckham played six seasons for the LA Galaxy, winning the MLS Cup in his last two seasons stateside. New York Red Bulls midfielder Cahill credited Beckham for his own decision to join MLS.
"What he's done for the MLS is amazing," the Australian said. "I think he's played a big part in every one being excited about it, for wanting to be involved and obviously he played a part in me coming here."
To acquire Beckham, MLS instituted a Designated Player mechanism, which allowed teams to include players outside the stringent salary caps. The rule has ushered several high-profile players into the league since, including Cahill, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rafael Marquez.
Beckham represented England 115 times, a record for an outfielder. Following PSG's Ligue 1 triumph this season, he left Manchester United, Real Madrid, the Galaxy and now PSG with a title.
"To leave when he left the Premier League, everyone was questioning why, but the bigger picture is you have to see what he's done in world soccer," Cahill said. "He's made a massive impact on the MLS and you can see that. Everywhere I travel every weekend you see Beckham jerseys regardless of who you play against. Hats off to him. He's a special player."
In addition to his on-field success, Beckham added celebrity cachet. His good looks and marriage to Spice Girl Victoria Adams propelled him to a global platform. Endorsement deals made him the richest soccer player in the world prior to his retirement.
"I think for football it could be a sad day but obviously he's going to go into bigger and better things. He's an ambassador for world soccer," Cahill said. "I'm pretty sure he's got some surprises ahead."
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