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7. The number has a lot of significance in various fields viz. astrology, science, mythology, Christianity and so on. It has found a lot of significance in literature and anime too. Like in the Harry Potter series, seven is said to be the most powerful magic number(Voldemort splits his soul into seven), in the InuYasha series, the Shichinintai are a group of seven mercenaries. In football, the coveted #7 jersey is worn by the player who can conjure up something in the middle of a drab game. One who carries the burden of the team on his shoulders. One whose attitude and personality are interconnected with the number itself. Nowadays the number is worn by any tom, dick and harry. But certain players stand exception to this rule. George Best, Eric Cantona, Christiano Ronaldo. But there is only one David Beckham.

Not many people think Beckham is any good as a footballer. True he may not have mazy dribbling skills or lung bursting pace. But that was not his forte. Show me people who have better dead ball skills than this man. Show me a person you can consistently hit 60yard passes and make it seem effortless. The success of Van Nistelrooy at Manchester United was built on inch perfect crossing by Beckham.

He is not the pathetic posterboy of football who has got far on his looks alone, that he is made out to be. He was really good. Even finished runner up for the World Player of the world. Not bad for a footballer without any skills. He has always played with passion, wearing his heart on his sleeve. I remember reading his autobiography that provided an insight into David Beckham – The Footballer. About his love for the game. About the hours and hours spent after training into perfecting his free-kicks. He had talent but he had to really work hard at it, probably more than the others. Ferguson once said that, “ he practised with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn’t care about.”

In recent years he has played nowhere at his best. But that does not dilute the fact that he was talented. Every now and then, he’s proved people wrong and shown that he can deliver when it matters most. Ask Fabio Capello who vowed to never play Beckham in a madrid shirt but then took him back on the basis of his intensity and passion in training and it was Beckham who single handedly led Real Madrid to the title before he left.

He has been vilified and criticised throughout his career. He was blamed for England’s defeat to Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. But then came back the following season and helped United win the treble. Scored the penalty against Argentina in the following World Cup to abolish the demons. He has scored goals when it mattered most. Remember Greece at Wembley? He is one of the most under-rated players in the world. But that does not take away anything from his long and distinguished career.

He had always played with passion and a love for the game that is sadly not seen in many of the players today. I watched in raptures when he hit a 40 yrd pass so effortlessly that it looked like the nothing more than a push but landed right at the feet of the players. I have been spellbound when he scored freekicks when it looks like even the opposing goal-keeper is admiring the sheer beauty of his skill. He has maintained dignity in his demeanor that highlights a certain confidence in his own skills. Never has he spoken ill about his former bosses, even Ferguson who once famously kicked a boot at him. Loved by fans of the teams he played for. I think the reception that the United fans gave him when he came back with AC Milan speaks volumes about the love and respect that have for the man.

I am really disheartened that he won’t have a chance again to get his hands on the World Cup. He of all people deserved that one last shot. But sadly that’s not going to happen.

He was and will always remain my idol. He was the reason i started and watching and playing football. Tried to imitate the way he took a freekick or crossed the football. No amount of criticism about Beckham can ever change the way i look up to him. Because he introduced me to the beautiful world of football. A game that has gone from being a hobby to being a passionate obsession for me. Football is the best part of me and is my pick-me-up when I am down. And for this I will always be grateful. Because without football, i wouldn’t be half the person I am  and would be dying a very slow death indeed.

*penalty against argentina in the last video always gives me goosebumps


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