“I’m rather hoping we’ll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player,” he said.
Former England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson paid tribute to “a fantastic football player, a fantastic man,” while FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: “It’s the end of a chapter of an amazing story.
“David grew up as a football-loving child and achieved his dreams, and unquestionably inspired millions of boys and girls to try and do the same,” Blatter added.
As one of Britain’s most recognizable figures, Beckham also worked as an ambassador for last year’s London Olympics and carried the Olympic flame to the opening ceremony in a glitzy speedboat ride down the River Thames.
British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe said Beckham had been “a constant source of support and inspiration.”
Britain’s press, who savaged him back in 1998 when they blamed him for England’s World Cup exit after getting himself sent off, were generous in their praise yesterday.
“Cheers David,” said the front-page headline of popular tabloid the Sun, paying tribute to a “True Brit hero” in a 12-page pullout.
The Daily Mail, the Times and the Guardian all ran with the headline “End it Like Beckham,” playing on the title of Bend it Like Beckham, the film that launched Keira Knightley’s career.
He is due to play his final game for PSG at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir on May 26.