I alluded to this piece briefly on the previous post, but David Beckham holds a special place in my footballing heart. My admiration for Paolo Maldini is no secret, this was in fact the home for Maldini Monday for a few years, and in my eyes there will never be another like him. But second to Paolo, I have always held David Bechkam in high esteem. I often read statements about being him being a mercenary and pretty boy, but that means little to me. A true footballer in my eyes is a player who comes to work with his a-game, gives immense effort, and does whatever it takes to help his team win, David Beckham has always been that guy no matter the jersey.
I had the pleasure, for a short period to see him play for AC Milan, it is rare to truly respect and admire a player and then have him end up at your favorite team later in life. I grew up trying to bend the ball around trees and shrubs, much to my parents dismay, and then into goals from corner kicks and around training walls. I loved defense, but there was an elegance, an almost poetic beauty to what David Beckham could do with the ball. A simple pass, a curving cross, or a thundering shot that almost magically found it's way into the back of the net. Seeing him on the field alongside Paolo Maldini was incredible, even at 26 years old, I could find a child like grin to enjoy such an occurrence.
I have always viewed footballing fandom as piece of my youth, something that I would eventually grow out of. You grow up with your team, your favorites, and then inevitably they grow old and retire. I had the pleasure of enjoying Paolo Maldini for most of my footballing life and late into my twenties. I also had the pleasure to watch David Beckham for almost as long, a few World Cups, his time at Madrid and even meeting him in person not once but twice here stateside. While he may not retire quite yet, he is in fact the last of my heroes and my last true connection and affinity for a footballer. While I will never grow out my love for Milan, my days of footballing heroes are finally numbered.