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Football: What next for Becks?

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

David Beckham will not be short of work offers after he ended a playing career that made him a globally recognised celebrity, with sponsors and sporting bodies jostling to secure his services.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy star expressed the hope as he announced his retirement on Thursday that he would be best remembered as a footballer, rather than a celebrity.

The 38-year-old said it "hurt" when people considered him little more than a famous face and said it was the right time to retire because he was "leaving as a champion" after winning the French league title with Paris Saint-Germain.

But Beckham's tattoo-covered body and ever-changing hairstyles have been plastered on advertising billboards around the planet for years and his retirement from competitive football, and the commitments it entails, is expected to only increase his value to sponsors.

The photogenic boy from modest beginnings in east London has already amassed a fortune of £165 million ($252 million, 195 million euros), and currently has sponsorship deals in place with Adidas, H&M, British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, watch company Breitling and COTY fragrances.

"Brand Beckham" also includes his pop star-turned-fashion-designer wife, Victoria -- who long ago nicknamed him "Goldenballs" -- and their four children are no strangers to the limelight.

The fact that the three older children have been in schools in England since they returned from Los Angeles last year suggests that the Beckhams intend to base themselves in London.

Aside from his lucrative commercial tie-ins, Beckham is also in demand as an ambassador, glad-handing officials and spreading the bonhomie with a ready smile that he has mastered.

PSG, the super-rich Qatari-owned club who recruited him for the final few months of his career, are in talks with his representatives about continuing their relationship in some form.

Club president Nasser El-Khelaifi said on Friday: "He is very interested in the idea of remaining involved in this project, which he believes in. We are in discussions.

"We hope to reach an agreement."

Beckham is also likely to increase his involvement in a deal he signed in March to be the ambassador for football in China, where his brief is to inspire young players in a country where the sport has been plagued by match-fixing.

He has also signed up to become ambassador for Britain's Sky Sports television channel, a partnership reported to be worth £20 million over five years.

The Beckham magic has not always worked, though. He teamed up with second-in-line to the throne Prince William and now British Prime Minister David Cameron to promote England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup but it ended in humiliating failure.

England's bid attracted just two votes as surprise choice Russia were handed the honour in 2010.

Yet Beckham was a highly visible presence in the bid team when London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.

For the opening ceremony, he even delivered the Olympic flame to the east London stadium by speedboat.

Chief organiser Sebastian Coe said he would like to see him involved again in a similar role.

"I think he can do anything he wants to do. I would genuinely hope that if England ever really does attempt to put another proper bid together to win a World Cup that he is the first port of call, because he came into Olympic sport, understood it very quickly," Coe told Sky Sports News.

"I can't imagine that David won't be in very high demand in all sorts of areas. I hope he gets used in the right and proper way because he is a very influential figure now in world sport."

The English Football Association appear to be listening. FA chairman David Bernstein spoke about his desire to form a "close association" with England's most-capped outfield player.

One career avenue that appears unlikely is that he will follow other former players into managing a football club, pulling on a tracksuit to direct a team from the sidelines on a chilly Saturday in the lower tiers of the English Football League.

However, Beckham has admitted that his stint with LA Galaxy has left him with the long-term ambition to own a franchise in Major League Soccer in the United States -- the current buy-in fee is $40 million.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130517/football-what-next-becks