David Beckham bid a tearful farewell to professional soccer.
The 38-year-old burst into tears as he walked off the field in his final game as a player. The emotional moment brought the Ligue 1 (French first division) game between Paris Saint-Germain and Brest to a temporary halt, as Beckham’s PSG teammates hugged him one-by-one before he made his way to the bench.
Beckham was used mainly as a substitute during his four-month stay in Paris, but he took center stage on Saturday. He captained his team, started in the midfield and even had an assist during the 81-minute finale.
When Beckham’s number was called, the crowd at PSG’s Parc des Princes (which included former French President Nicolas Sarkozy) chanted his name and gave him a standing ovation. The fans were joined by both sets of players and coaches. The former England captain could not hold back the tears as his 20-year career came to a close.
Beckham said he struggled to keep his emotions in check for most of the second half, according to the Associated Press.
“To end my career in front of a crowd like that, with players like that, it’s very special,” he said. “It started about 20 minutes before that, to be honest. I started thinking and then, you know, I couldn’t concentrate by then, and it was difficult. You know, you try to hold the emotion back because it is what it is, but it’s difficult.”
Beckham is a world-famous celebrity, but his iconic status rode on the back of his considerable soccer success. He always put the game ahead of his many extra-curricular activities, which makes the emotional send-off a fitting one.
See Beckham’s final moments as a professional soccer player in the video below.