England and Manchester United legend David Beckham given PFA Merit Award

Tom Doyle
Beckham was awarded the honour for his glittering career: Dave Benett

Former England captain David Beckham has received the Professional Footballers' Association Merit award for his achievements for club and country.

The 41-year-old follows former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs in receiving the accolade, after the Welshman won the award in 2016.

Beckham won 115 senior caps for England and captained the team at the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals. He also won the prize in 2013 when it was awarded to the 'Class of 92' - the group of United academy players who went on to star in the first team under Sir Alex Ferguson.

He also won the PFA's young player of the year award in 1997.

Beckham, who was born in Leytonstone in east London, joined United as an apprentice aged 16.

Along with the likes of Giggs, the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, Beckham progressed from the youth ranks to the first team and first came to national prominence with a wonder goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in August 1996.

His greatest assets arguably were his crossing and set-piece ability, which he used to devastating effect for club and country.

He won six Premier League titles with United between 1996 and 2003 and was part of the side which won the treble of league, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999. His relationship with Ferguson deteriorated and he was eventually sold to Real Madrid in the summer of 2003. In 2007 he won LaLiga with Real as part of a side littered with superstar 'galacticos', of which he was one of the most high-profile.

It had already been confirmed midway through that title-winning season that he would leave Real at the end of the campaign and join the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he would become Major League Soccer's star attraction and win two MLS Cups.

Beckham also had two loan spells at AC Milan during the MLS off-season and signed a five-month deal with Paris St Germain in January 2013. He announced his retirement from playing on May 16, 2013.

Since then Beckham has been focused on setting up an MLS side in Miami, and on charity work which includes an ambassadorial role with Unicef, a position he has held since 2005.

At international level Beckham enjoyed some incredible highs but also some crushing lows.

He was vilified following his red card against Argentina in a last-16 match at the 1998 World Cup, with some blaming England's exit on his dismissal.

He almost single-handedly secured England's passage to the 2002 finals, giving arguably the performance of his life against Greece in an October 2001 qualifier at Old Trafford which ended with him scoring a free-kick which gained England the point they needed to book their tickets to Japan and South Korea.

Once there, he gained revenge on Argentina by scoring a penalty in the group stages, but England suffered a quarter-final defeat to Brazil and lost at the same stage to Portugal four years later.

Beckham was part of the so-called 'golden generation' of England players but they were never able to realise that potential by winning international silverware, and he won his final cap in a World Cup qualifier against Belarus in October 2009.

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