UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has paid tribute to former England captain David Beckham, calling him “a true football icon of his generation,” as he selected the former Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF midfielder to receive the 2018 UEFA President’s Award.
“The President’s Award recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities,” said Mr Čeferin. “I have chosen David Beckham as the recipient of this year’s award because he has been a global ambassador for football, promoting the game and all its values in every corner of the planet. His tireless humanitarian efforts, which have helped the lives of many children around the world, should also be celebrated. Beckham is a true football icon of his generation.”
Beckham, who will receive this award in Monaco later this year, made 762 appearances for club and country, scoring 130 goals and delivering countless assists, in a career that spanned over 20 years. He won the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United FC in 1999, helping his boyhood club defeat FC Bayern München 2-1 in one of the most thrilling finals in the history of the competition.
“It is an honour for me to receive the UEFA President’s Award,” said Beckham, who was the first Englishman to make 100 appearances in the UEFA Champions League. “During my career I always gave 100% and tried to uphold the values of teamwork and fair play and I am proud to join the illustrious list of players who have previously won this award. Many of the unforgettable moments I had on the pitch came in the UEFA Champions League such as that magic night in Barcelona in 1999 when we beat Bayern Munich in such dramatic fashion.”
Aside from his successes on the pitch, Beckham has also worked selflessly off the field to improve the lives of those living in hardship and poverty. In 2015, he set up ‘7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund’ which is aimed at helping children, by tackling issues such as bullying, violence and child marriage, while also ensuring youngster have the chance to attend school and have an education.
“My career in football allowed me to actively participate in helping to improve the lives of numerous children across the globe in cooperation with UNICEF and it gives me great pleasure that I am able to give something back to society,” Beckham explained. “When people believe in you, you believe in yourself. By giving children, especially girls, the support they need, my 7 Fund is helping them realise their potential.”
After spending almost a decade with Manchester United FC, where he also won six Premier League titles, he moved to Real Madrid CF where he would spend the next four years. A stint at LA Galaxy followed, sandwiched between loan spells at AC Milan, before he finished his illustrious career at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013. The 43 year-old Beckham is one of a select band of English players to have been capped over 100 times for their country. He made a total of 115 appearances, scoring 17 goals and had the honour of playing in three FIFA World Cups and two UEFA EUROs.
He was named in the UEFA Team of the Year on two occasions in 2001 and 2003, while in 1999, he was the runner-up behind Rivaldo in the Ballon d’Or.
Each year, a football personality is honoured by UEFA in receiving the UEFA President’s Award.
The UEFA President’s Award recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities. The accolade, first introduced by UEFA in 1998, focuses particularly on the true protagonists – the players – who have advanced the game’s development and success.
In recent years, a select group of football luminaries – European Footballers of the Year – have received the UEFA President’s Award: Alfredo Di Stéfano (2007), Sir Bobby Charlton (2008), Eusébio (2009), Raymond Kopa (2010), Gianni Rivera (2011), Franz Beckenbauer (2012),Johan Cruyff (2013) and Josef Masopust (2014). Francesco Totti (Italy) was the recipient of the 2017 award.
1998: Jacques Delors (European Commission, France)
1999: No award
2000: Guy Roux (France)
2001: Juan Santisteban (Spain)
2002: Sir Bobby Robson (England)
2003: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
2004: Ernie Walker (Scotland)
2005: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands)
2006: Wilfried Straub (Germany)
2007: Alfredo Di Stéfano (Spain)
2008: Sir Bobby Charlton (England)
2009: Eusébio (Portugal)
2010: Raymond Kopa (France)
2011: Gianni Rivera (Italy)
2012: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
2013: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
2014: Josef Masopust (Czech Republic)
2015: No award
2016: No award
2017: Francesco Totti (Italy)