David Beckham is a publicity machine and a fine soccer player. But he's always been more former than latter.
In his prime, Bechkam might've been one of the better players in the world, but he was not quite a generational talent. Beckham won UEFA player of the year once and finished second twice in FIFA world player of the year balloting. He also captained England's World Cup team in 2002, though during his international career the Three Lions never made it past the quarterfinals in either the World Cup or European Championships.
Beckahm does have a knack for generating publicity for himself, however. His transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid was both ballyhooed and rancorous. His most memorable play in an English uniform was getting red-carded for intentionally kicking an Argentina player at the 1998 World Cup.
In the twilight of his career, Beckham found refuge in the MLS and instantly became the most recognizable name in soccer in the United States. He delivered a brief boon for the league and the L.A. Galaxy, though it took him five seasons to help his team claim the elusive MLS Cup. Beckham never stopped making news, however, as his rivalry with star teammate Landon Donovan and a loan to AC Milan generated plenty of controversy, and his wife Posh Spice also helped to keep him in the spotlight.