The English team captain breaks the second metatarsal bone in his left foot in a Manchester United game versus Spanish club Deportivo La Coruña. The injury jeopardizes Beckham's chance of playing in the summer's World Cup, causing a national hysteria. "Nothing is more important to England's arrangements for the World Cup than the state of David Beckham's foot," Time reports Prime Minister Blair saying during a cabinet meeting. Fortunately, he recovers in time to play for England. He redeems his 1998 mistakes with a redemptive win versus Argentina, but England is disqualified after losing to Brazil, who go on to win the 2002 World Cup.
Five people are arrested after planning to kidnap wife Victoria and their two sons, Brooklyn and Romeo, for a $7.5 million ransom. Beckham issues a public statement: "The first role of a father and husband is to keep his family safe," and announces plans to improve security at the couple's $13 million, 24-acre mansion, known popularly as "Beckingham Palace." Charges against the suspects are later dropped due to an unreliable witness.
In Bend It Like Beckham, an English-Indian character's obsession with the British soccer star – whose decade-long Manchester Union career includes six English Premiership titles, two Football Association Challenge cups and one Champions League win – introduces him to American audiences.
Although Manchester United made Beckham the world's highest-paid footballer with a three-year, $22 million contract in 2002, he's acquired by rival club Real Madrid after a public rift with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. However, Beckham still plans to play for England's national team in international competitions. He undergoes a 90-minute physical in the capital that is televised around the world amidst a Spanish media frenzy.
Wearing a black top hat and tails, Beckham receives an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from the Queen for "services to football" at Buckingham Palace. Although the iconic English superstar has recently been traded to Real Madrid in Spain, the BBC reports him saying, "[The award] is not just for me, but for Manchester United, England, all of my teammates and my family."
Britain's News of the World tabloid breaks the story that Beckham had an affair with his twentysomething former assistant, Rebecca Loos, and sent her sexually suggestive text messages. In an official statement, he calls the allegations "ludicrous," but more reports of naughty texts and affairs come out with at least six other women. Beckham and wife Victoria fight back, posing for photographs together while holding hands. "The simple truth is that I am very happily married, have a wonderful wife and two very special kids," he says in the statement.
He announces plans to launch the David Beckham Academy in Carson, Calif, with first classes beginning in the spring of 2006. The center provides training sessions for boys and girls, using the same drills Beckham grew up with as a Manchester United trainee. Another Academy opens in London in November, with plans for an Asian institute in the works. "It's about giving kids an opportunity to go to a soccer academy like mine," he says in a press conference. "[If] it produces new stars, boys and girls, if it produces the new Mia Hamm, it's special and it's worked."
Beckham is dropped from England's national team after playing 94 games with them, including three World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006) and a European Championship in 2000. "I know people said I should have seen it coming, but it was a total shock," he tells Britain's Daily Mirror. He resigned as England's captain in July after a disappointing World Cup game in Germany.
Due to his reduced playing time with Real Madrid and to help Posh pursue her fashion ambitions, the Beckhams decide to move to L.A.. The soccer star signs a reported $250 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, igniting a media storm. "We sold 5,000 season tickets in less than 48 hours," Tim Leiweke, a Galaxy executive, tells Sports Illustrated. "I can't believe what just happened here."
Beckham makes his L.A. soccer debut as Katie Holmes, Eva Longoria and Mary-Kate Olsen show up to watch. The following night, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith host a star-studded gala private party for the Beckhams at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary in downtown L.A.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Levy/Lee/INF; Real Madrid/WireImage; FIONA HANSON/AP; Tim Whitby/WireImage; Dan Chung/GUARDIAN SYNDICATION; David Fisher/REX USA; Phil McCarten/UPI Photo/Landov