Sir Alex Ferguson

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Posted by r2d2 03/05/2009 @ 10:09

Tags : sir alex ferguson, soccer managers, soccer, sports

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Rafael Benitez snubs Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United's ... -
Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, has refused to congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson on Manchester United's Premier League title triumph. The pair have been swapping insults for most of the season. By Henry Winter Invited twice on Sunday to send his...
Sir Alex Ferguson risks wrath of Newcastle and Middlesbrough -
Sir Alex Ferguson has risked the fury of Newcastle and Middlesbrough by giving the clearest hint yet that he will send a weakened Manchester United side to Hull for the last fixture of the Premier League season as he prepares for the Champions League...
Moyes to become the next great Scottish manager? -
Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, and Sir Alex Ferguson. When looking through the managers around today, there is only one Scot who looks like he may have what it takes to come anywhere near them. Now, I understand it is far too early to be...
Gerald Mortimer: Ferguson wins war on and off pitch - Derby Evening Telegraph
LIVERPOOL gave Manchester United a genuine challenge in the Premier League before Sir Alex Ferguson annexed his second hat-trick of titles on Saturday. Off the field, it was no contest when Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez engaged Ferguson in verbal...
Messi: Utd mad to let Tevez go - The Sun
Tevez, who waved goodbye to the Old Trafford faithful when he was subbed during Saturday's title-clinching 0-0 draw with Arsenal, snubbed United boss Alex Ferguson by failing to turn up for the club's Player of the Year dinner at Old Trafford on Sunday...
Sir Alex Ferguson: Every Woman In Milan Is Like Miss World -
Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, 67, has admitted that - despite landing his 11th Premier League title - it is the European nights that get him most excited. Ferguson distinguishes between the tribal nature of football in England,...
By Alan Nixon 20/05/2009 Luis Antonio Valencia wants to join Manchester United ahead of Real Madrid - with Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson on a four-week deadline to do the deal. Wigan's Ecuador midfielder, 23, has told pals he would prefer to go to Old...
David Moyes at Everton for long haul, insists Bill Kenwight - England - ESPN
Moyes is constantly linked with Manchester United - if and when Sir Alex Ferguson stands down. But Kenwright is convinced that the man who has taken Everton to their first FA Cup final since 1995 ''is in it for the long haul''....
Chelsea's Frank Lampard is 'exceptional', says Manchester United's ... -
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has heaped praise on Chelsea's Frank Lampard, singling the midfielder out as an "exceptional" example of what he considers footballing excellence. By Emily Benammar While discussing the changing attitudes to...
Eric Cantona: Loach like Sir Alex - The Press Association
Eric Cantona has said that working with Ken Loach on his latest film was like being coached by Sir Alex Ferguson. The former Manchester United player stars as himself in Loach's Looking For Eric, which is competing for the coveted Palme d'Or for best...

Ole Gunnar Solskjær

Solskjaer cropped.jpg

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Knight First Class, Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (born 26 February 1973 in Kristiansund, Møre og Romsdal) is a Norwegian football manager and former footballer who spent the majority of his career playing for Manchester United, often dubbed the "Baby-faced assassin". He is the current Manchester United Reserve team manager. He played 366 times for the Red Devils and scored 126 goals during a very successful period for the club. Solskjær's defining moment in football came in injury time of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final where he scored the winning last-minute goal against Bayern Munich, completing a remarkable comeback and winning The Treble for United.

Before he moved to England, Solskjær completed a year's national service in the Norwegian army, and played part time for Third Division Norwegian Clausenengen F.K., later moving to Norwegian Premier League Molde F.K. in 1994. He joined United on 29 July 1996, for a transfer fee of £1.5m. He is a patron of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (formerly Shareholders United).

On 27 August 2007, Solskjær announced his retirement from football after failing to recover from a serious knee injury. However, Solskjær remained at Old Trafford in a coaching role, as well as in an ambassadorial capacity. On 20 May 2008, Solskjær was announced as Manchester United's first full-time Reserve team manager since 2006, taking over from Brian McClair and Jimmy Ryan, who had filled the role in a caretaker capacity.

In November 2007 Solskjær was made a Knight, First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav by King Harald V of Norway. He was presented with the award in a ceremony on 25 October 2008 in his hometown of Kristiansund. Solskjær is the youngest ever recipient of the knighthood, usually bestowed upon notable members of society in their later years.

For his commitment to Manchester United, Solskjaer was granted a testimonial which took place in the pre-season preparations for the 2008-09 season. The match was against Espanyol and was played on August 2nd. The game ended 1-0 to Manchester United, with the only goal coming from Fraizer Campbell. The testimonial gathered 68,868 spectators, the second largest attendance for a testimonial in Great Britain, only beaten by Roy Keane's testimonial.

Played for Clausenengen and impressed in Otta Cup as a 17-year old with 17 goals in six matches. Joined Molde FK in 1995 and scored 34 goals in his first season in the Norwegian premiership.

Solskjær had scored 31 goals in 42 matches for Molde in the Norwegian Premier League, and he did not disappoint at the start of his United career, scoring six minutes into his debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in the Premiership in the 1996-97 season.

Solskjær scored 18 Premiership goals for United in his first season, helping United win the title in the last weeks of the season. The British media nicknamed him the "Baby-Faced Assassin" because of his youthful looks and his deadly finishing. He will perhaps be best remembered as a "super-sub", having earned wide acclaim for a remarkable habit of coming into matches late on as a substitute and scoring goals. Alex Ferguson remarked that Solskjær has a knack of sitting on the bench and studying the game without taking his eye off the action. One of his most impressive feats was coming off the bench to score four goals in the last twelve minutes of United's 8-1 thrashing of Nottingham Forest.

Solskjær stayed at Old Trafford even though other clubs showed interest in the player in 1998. The Norwegian went on to score the winning goal in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, helping the team secure the Treble and cementing his own place in the United folklore. These feats made him a favourite among the United supporters, inspiring songs such as "Who Put the Ball in the Germans' Net?" and "You Are My Solskjær". Although he had been absent on the pitch for a long time due to injury, United fans still fill matches with chants sung in Solskjær's honour.

After a few years of playing in the role of super-sub, Solskjær got a chance as a starter in the 2001-02 season, paired up with striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He took the opportunity with characteristic incisiveness, forcing Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke onto the bench.

By 2002-03, after both Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke had left Old Trafford, Solskjær had only Diego Forlán and Van Nistelrooy to compete with for a place in the starting line-up. Still, Ferguson's persistence in playing van Nistelrooy up front as a lone striker meant that opportunities were limited.

Solskjær was subsequently given his time again when David Beckham picked up an injury and Ferguson played the Norwegian on the right wing. While proving himself to be an able crosser of the ball, Solskjær also popped up with goals, scoring a total of 16 goals for the season. He was selected to play on the right in important matches, such as in the league game against Arsenal and the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid, while Beckham was left on the bench. He also captained the team in a number of matches.

Solskjær played for Norway in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 and has 67 international caps.

In 2003-04, Solskjær found himself in and out of the United squad as he struggled with a recurring knee problem. Coupled with the arrival of Louis Saha from Fulham in January 2004, Solskjær found himself out of the first team and found himself either in his original role of super-sub or in central midfield. Solskjær still returned from injury in time to play in the 2004 FA Cup final, which the club won. The arrival of Alan Smith in summer 2004 nonetheless led to rumours that Solskjær was to leave Old Trafford, along with Nicky Butt, who eventually moved to Newcastle United, and David Bellion, who had been largely replaced by Wayne Rooney. Solskjær underwent intensive knee surgery in August 2004 and had to miss the 2004-05 season entirely. While he eventually recovered his fitness, it was difficult for the 32-year-old to carve his niche again among the heavy-weight attack of Manchester United. The Old Trafford faithful, however, displayed almost fanatical loyalty in their desire to see Solskjær in action again.

To show their continuing support, fans added a banner to the collection that lines the Stretford End reading "20 LEGEND" (Solskjær wore number 20 for United). Solskjær further solidified his status amongst United fans when he became a patron of the supporters action group, Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), previously Shareholders United.

Solskjær made his long-awaited return to action on 5 December 2005, playing for United's reserves against Liverpool. Spectators numbering 2,738 showed up to witness the comeback of the popular Norwegian - an above-average turn-out for a reserve team match. He made his first-team return as a substitute in the match against Birmingham City on 28 December. He then finally made his first start more than a year later in the FA Cup match against Burton Albion, before playing a full game as a captain in the re-play. His return to full fitness slowly continued with regular appearances in the reserves, until on 8 March 2006 when, during a game against Middlesbrough, he was accidentally caught by Ugo Ehiogu, breaking his cheekbone. While facing the possibility of missing the rest of the season, he nevertheless appeared as a substitute against Sunderland on Good Friday.

Solskjær returned to Premiership action in 23 August 2006 when he scored in an away match against Charlton Athletic, his first Premiership goal since April 2003. Ferguson commented after the match that "it was a great moment for Ole, United fans everywhere, the players and the staff" and that "Ole has been through a torrid time with injuries for the last two years, but he's persevered and never lost faith and has got his repayment tonight. Everyone is over the moon for him." He continued his come-back by putting in the winning goal in the Champions League clash with Celtic on September 13, fulfilling his post-injury ambition to score another goal at Old Trafford. Solskjær's first Premiership goal at Old Trafford since the return came on October 1 when he netted both goals in the 2-0 win against Newcastle. His goalscoring form continued with when he started the away match against Wigan Athletic and struck a sublime finish to round off a 3-1 victory, and again against Crewe Alexandra, on October 25, 2006, scoring the first of the 2-1 victory. After a further injury sustained in Copenhagen, Solskjær again returned on form scoring the third goal in the 3-1 win over Wigan on Boxing Day. Solskjær continued his form by scoring United's opening goal in their 3-2 win over Reading on the 30th of December. Additionally, he came on as a substitute to score an injury-time winner in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup on 7 January 2007.

After a match against Reading, Solskjær had further surgery on his knee. However, it was not as serious as his previous operations, and he was put out of action for only a month. He was predicted to be available for the 31 March game against Blackburn. United boss Alex Ferguson said: "It was good timing with the international break coming up. It gave us the opportunity to get the thing done." Solskjær did make his comeback from injury against Blackburn Rovers as a late substitute, and even scored in the 89th minute to seal Manchester United's 4-1 win.

On 5 June 2007, it was announced that Solskjær had undergone minor surgery after he reported discomfort in his knee while training with Norway. The surgery was a success, but Solskjær failed to fully recover and announced his retirement from professional football on 27 August 2007.

Since his retirement, there have been calls from football fans that Sir Alex Ferguson should retire the number 20 shirt as a tribute to Solskjær.

On 2 August 2008, a testimonial was played in honour of Solskjær at Old Trafford against Espanyol. Over 68,000 fans were present as United eventually got the winner from substitute Fraizer Campbell. Solskjær appeared in the 68th minute, replacing Carlos Tevez. He hit the target three times and was credited for his role in influencing the young Campbell's play. At the end of the game, he addressed the fans with a speech, thanking the staff, players, fans and his family.

On 31 March 2006, Solskjær signed a new contract with Manchester United until the end of the 2008 season, with a provision to allow him to develop his coaching awards. He also acted in an ambassadorial role for the club, when he travelled to Hong Kong in 2006 and played with students at the Manchester United Soccer School in Hong Kong. In July 2006, Solskjær participated in a pre-season game against Orlando Pirates, playing for 45 minutes and scoring 2 goals in United's 4-0 win. He also scored in matches against Preston North End and F.C. Porto. Ferguson praised the player and said he would re-consider his plan to buy a new striker. On 16 August 2006 Solskjær returned for the Norwegian national team and played for 45 minutes against Brazil in a 1-1 draw.

On 2 September 2006, Solskjær scored his first goal for the national team after his injury, when he scored the first and last goals in a 4-1 win against Hungary in a Euro 2008 qualifying match. It was also his first post-injury professional match where he played the full game.

On 19 April 2007, Solskjær stated that he could not see himself playing professional football past his contract expiry date, at the end of the 2008 season. He has already been granted a testimonial following his long service to the club—and in recognition of his popularity with supporters. The match took place on August 2nd 2008, a 1-0 win over RCD Espanyol. Solskjaer played the final 25 minutes of the match, coming close to scoring on two occasions.

In an interview in July covered on, Solskjær refused to put a timescale on his professional career, but he was confident he would play out the one year left in his contract at Manchester United. He said, "The knee will never be 100 percent again, but as long as it doesn't hurt I'll continue to play. I don't know how long I can continue. It might be over after this season or I might be able to play another season." When interviewed by Setanta Sports in August 2007, Solskjær confirmed he would train to be a coach after retiring from professional football, and would start to earn the required badges after his last season with Manchester United. He also stated that unless his knee returned to a better state by the end of the 2007-08 season, that would definitely be his last season.

On 27 August 2007, it was announced that Solskjær had retired from football with immediate effect due to his ongoing knee injury. Finally, on September 4 at the home game against Sunderland, his retirement was officially announced over the Old Trafford tannoy, with Solskjær walking onto the pitch to a standing ovation. As of his retirement, Solskjær holds the record for the most goals scored for Manchester United as a substitute, scoring 28 goals off the bench.

Following his retirement, Solskjær worked for Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, coaching the strikers on the first team for the remainder of the 2007–08 season.

During the summer of 2008, he took over the Manchester United Reserves. He won the 2007–08 Lancashire Senior Cup by defeating the Liverpool Reserves 3–2 in the final.

Shortly after the resignation of Åge Hareide from the position, Solskjær was offered the opportunity to coach the Norway national football team; he declined, saying that it was not yet the right time for him to become the Norway coach.

Solskjær lives in Bramhall with his wife, Silje, and their three children, Noah, Karna and Elijah. He recently admitted he is not his son Noah's favourite player — his former United team-mate Wayne Rooney is.

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David Beckham

David Beckham signs autographs for fans after the first annual COPA Minnesota benefit game between the LA Galaxy and the Minnesota Thunder.

David Robert Joseph Beckham OBE (born 2 May 1975) is an English footballer who currently plays in midfield for Italian Serie A club A.C. Milan (on loan from American Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy) and the England national team. Beckham's stint with Milan, which began on 7 January 2009, is a two-month loan in order to retain his fitness levels during the MLS offseason to sustain his England career. However, after impressing at the Italian giants, Beckham stated his desire to sign permanently with Milan. This announcement sparked a media circus. First, Los Angeles turned down Milan's initial offer, citing that it was "too low;" next, the MLS commissioner imposed a transfer deadline that was passed with Galaxy officials stating that the deal was off and that Beckham would be returning to L.A.; and recently, it was reported that Beckham's transfer to Milan may be finally completed the last week of February.

Twice runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year and in 2004 was the world's highest-paid footballer, Beckham is the first British footballer to play 100 Champions League matches.. He was Google's most searched of all sports topics in both 2003 and 2004. With such global recognition he has become an elite advertising brand and a top fashion icon. Beckham was captain of England from 15 November 2000 until the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, during which he played 58 times. Since then he has continued to represent his country and earned his much-publicised hundredth cap for England against France on 26 March 2008. He is currently tied with Bobby Moore as England's most-capped outfield player.

Beckham's career began when he signed a professional contract with Manchester United, making his first-team debut in 1992 aged 17. During his time there, United won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He left Manchester United to sign for Real Madrid in 2003, where he remained for four seasons , clinching the La Liga championship in his final season with the club.

In January 2007, it was announced that Beckham would leave Real Madrid and sign a five-year contract with Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham's contract with Los Angeles Galaxy became effective on 1 July 2007 and gave him the highest player salary in MLS history. He debuted for the team on 21 July in a friendly versus Chelsea at The Home Depot Center, and on 15 August, he had his first start with the team, scoring his first goal in the 2007 SuperLiga semi-final. His first league start then came on 18 August in front of a record crowd at Giants Stadium.

Beckham is married to former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham. The couple have three sons and currently reside in Beverly Hills, California.

Beckham was born at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, London, England; the son of David Edward Alan "Ted" Beckham (b. Edmonton, London, July–September 1948), a kitchen fitter and Manchester United fan, and wife (m. London Borough of Hackney, 1969) Sandra Georgina West (b. 1949), a hairdresser. He regularly played football in Ridgeway Park, Chingford as a child. He attended Chase Lane Primary School and Chingford Foundation School as a child. In a 2007 interview, Beckham told a reporter that, "At school whenever the teachers asked, 'What do you want to do when you're older?' I'd say, 'I want to be a footballer.' And they'd say, 'No, what do you really want to do, for a job?' But that was the only thing I ever wanted to do." His maternal grandfather is Jewish, although Beckham has referred to himself as "half Jewish" and spoken of the influence the religion has had on him. In his book Both Feet on the Ground, he stated that growing up he always attended church with his parents and his two sisters, Joanne and Lynne. His parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who would frequently travel to Old Trafford from London to attend Manchester United's home matches. David inherited his parents' love of Manchester United and his main sporting passion was football. He attended one of Bobby Charlton's football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona, as part of a talent competition. As a child he played for a local youth team called the Ridgeway Rovers - coached by his father, Stuart Underwood and Steve Kirby. He was a Manchester United mascot for a match against West Ham United in 1986. Young Beckham had trials with his local club Leyton Orient, Norwich City and attended Tottenham Hotspur's, which was the first club he played for, school of excellence. During a two-year period in which he played for Brimsdown Rovers' youth team, he was named Under-15 Player of the Year in 1990. He also attended Bradenton Preparatory Academy, but signed schoolboy forms at Manchester United on his fourteenth birthday, and subsequently signed a Youth Training Scheme contract on 8 July 1991.

He was part of a group of young players at the club who guided the club to win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, with Beckham scoring in the second leg of the final against Crystal Palace. He made his first appearance for United's first-team that year, as a substitute in a League Cup match against Brighton & Hove Albion, and signed his first professional contract shortly afterwards. United reached the final of the Youth Cup again the following year, with Beckham playing in their defeat by Leeds United, and he won another medal in 1994 when the club's reserve team won their league.

On 7 December 1994, Beckham made his UEFA Champions League debut, scoring a goal in a 4–0 victory at home to Galatasaray in the final game of the group stage. However, this victory was of little use as they finished third out of four in their group behind Barcelona on goal difference.

He then went to Preston North End on loan for part of the 1994–95 season to get some first team experience. He impressed, scoring two goals in five appearances, notably scoring directly from a corner kick. Beckham returned to Manchester and finally made his Premier League debut for Manchester United on 2 April 1995, in a goalless draw against Leeds United.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had a great deal of confidence in the club's young players. Beckham as part of a group of young talents Ferguson brought in to United in the 1990s ("Fergie's Fledglings"), which included Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville. When experienced players Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis left the club after the end of the 1994–95 season, his decision to let youth team players replace them instead of buying star players from other clubs, drew a great deal of criticism. The criticism increased when United started the season with a 3–1 defeat at Aston Villa, with Beckham scoring United's only goal of the game; however, United won their next five matches and the young players performed well. Beckham swiftly established himself as United's right-sided midfielder (rather than a right-winger in the style of his predecessor Andrei Kanchelskis) and helped them to win the Premier League title and FA Cup double that season, scoring the winner in the semi-final against Chelsea and also provided the corner that Eric Cantona scored from in the FA Cup Final. Despite playing regularly for Manchester United, Beckham did not break into the England squad before Euro 96.

At the beginning of the 1996–97 season David Beckham was given the number 10 shirt that had most recently been worn by Mark Hughes. On 17 August 1996 (the first day of the Premier League season), Beckham became something of a household name when he scored a spectacular goal in a match against Wimbledon. With United leading 2–0, Beckham noticed that Wimbledon's goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was standing a long way out of his goal, and hit a shot from the halfway line that floated over the goalkeeper and into the net. When Beckham scored his famous goal, he did so in shoes custom-made for Charlie Miller ("MILLER" embroidered on boots), which had been given to Beckham by mistake.

On 18 May 1997, Eric Cantona retired as a player and left the coveted number 7 shirt free, and with Teddy Sheringham arriving from Tottenham Hotspur, Beckham left his number 10 shirt for Sheringham and picked up the number 7 jersey. Some fans had felt the number 7 shirt should be retired after Cantona had himself retired, but the shirt number remains in use to this day (currently by Cristiano Ronaldo).

United started the 1997–98 season well, but erratic performances in the second half of the season saw United finish second behind Arsenal.

In the 1998–99 season, he was part of the United team that won The Treble—Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, a unique feat in English football. There had been speculation that the criticism that he had received after being sent off in the World Cup would lead to him leaving England, but he decided to stay at Manchester United.

To ensure they would win the Premier League title, United needed to win their final league match of the season, at home to Tottenham Hotspur (with reports suggesting that the opposition would allow themselves to be easily beaten to prevent their deadly local rivals Arsenal from retaining the title), but Tottenham took an early lead in the match. Beckham scored the equaliser and United went on to win the match and the league.

Beckham played centre-midfield in United's FA Cup final win over Newcastle United and for the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, since United's first string centre-midfielders were suspended for the match. United were losing the match 1–0 at the end of normal time, but won the trophy by scoring two goals in injury time. Both of the goals came from corners taken by Beckham. Those crucial assists, coupled with great performances over the rest of the season, led to him finishing runner up to Rivaldo for 1999's European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Despite Beckham's achievements in the 1998–99 season, he was still unpopular among some opposition fans and journalists, and he was criticised after being sent off for a deliberate foul in Manchester United's World Club Championship match against Necaxa. It was suggested in the press that his wife was a bad influence on him, and that it might be in United's interests to sell him, but his manager publicly backed him and he stayed at the club.

The relationship between Ferguson and Beckham began to deteriorate, possibly as a result of Beckham's fame and commitments away from football. In 2000, Beckham was given permission to miss training to look after his son Brooklyn, who had gastroenteritis, but Ferguson was furious when Victoria Beckham was photographed at a London Fashion Week event on the same night, claiming that Beckham would have been able to train if Victoria had looked after Brooklyn that day. He responded by fining Beckham the maximum amount that was permitted (two weeks' wages – then £50,000) and dropping him for a crucial match against United's rivals Leeds United. He later criticised Beckham for this in his autobiography, claiming he had not been "fair to his team mates". Beckham had a good season for his club, though, and helped United to win the Premier League by a record margin.

On 10 April 2002, Beckham was injured during a Champions League match against Deportivo de La Coruña, breaking the second metatarsal bone in his left foot. There was speculation in the British media that the injury might have been caused deliberately, as the player who had injured Beckham was Argentine Aldo Duscher, and England and Argentina were due to meet in that year's World Cup. The injury prevented Beckham from playing for United for the rest of the season and they missed out on the Premier League title to Arsenal, but he signed a three-year contract in May, following months of negotiations with the club, mostly concerning extra payments for his image rights. The income from his new contract, and his many endorsement deals, made him the highest-paid player in the world at the time.

Following an injury early in the 2002–03 season, Beckham was unable to regain his place on the Manchester United team, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær having replaced him on the right side of midfield. His relationship with his manager deteriorated further on 15 February 2003 when, in the changing room following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, a furious Sir Alex Ferguson kicked a boot that struck Beckham over the eye, causing a cut that required stitches. The incident led to a great deal of transfer speculation involving Beckham, with bookmakers offering odds on whether he or Ferguson would be first to leave the club. Although the team had started the season badly, their results improved greatly from December onwards and they won the league. He was still a first-choice player for England, however, and he was awarded an OBE for services to football on 13 June.

Beckham had made 265 Premier league appearances for United and scored 61 goals. He also made 81 Champions league appearances, scoring 15 goals. Beckham won 6 Premiership titles, 2 FA Cup's, one European Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FA Youth Cup in the space of 12 years.

Manchester United had been keen to sell Beckham to Barcelona but instead he signed a four-year contract with Real Madrid, with the transfer fee being about €35 million (£25m). The transfer was completed on 1 July 2003 and made him the third Englishman to play for the club after Laurie Cunningham and Steve McManaman. Although Beckham had worn the number seven shirt for Manchester United and England, he was unable to wear it at Madrid as it was currently assigned to club captain Raúl. He decided to wear number 23 instead, citing his admiration of basketball player Michael Jordan, who also wore the number 23 shirt, as the reason behind his decision.

Real Madrid finished the season in fourth place, and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage. But, Beckham immediately became a favourite with the Real Madrid supporters, scoring five times in his first 16 matches (including scoring less than 3 minutes into his La Liga debut), but the team, whose club president expected them to win either the Spanish league or the Champions League each season, did not match expectations.

In July 2004, while Beckham was in pre-season training in Spain, an intruder scaled a wall at the Beckhams' home while carrying a can of petrol. Victoria and their children were in the house at the time, but security guards apprehended the man before he reached the house. Beckham made more headlines on 9 October 2004 when he admitted intentionally fouling Ben Thatcher in an England match against Wales in order to get himself booked. Beckham was due to receive a one-match suspension for his next caution, and had picked up an injury, which he knew would keep him out of England's next match, so he deliberately fouled Thatcher in order to serve his suspension in a match that he would have had to miss anyway. The Football Association asked Beckham for an explanation of his actions and he admitted that he had "made a mistake" and apologised. He was sent off shortly afterwards, this time in a league match for Real Madrid against Valencia CF. Having received a yellow card, he was judged to have sarcastically applaud the referee and was given a second yellow card, causing an automatic dismissal, although the suspension was cancelled on appeal two days later. He was sent off for the third time that season on 3 December 2005 in a league match against Getafe. In that season, Beckham led La Liga in number of assists.

Real Madrid finished second to Barcelona in the 2005–06 La Liga, albeit with a large 12 point gap, and only reached the last sixteen in the Champions League after losing to Arsenal by one goal.

During the season, Beckham established football academies in Los Angeles, California and east London and he was named a judge for the 2006 British Book Awards.

In 2007, Real Madrid won their first Spanish La Liga title in three years because of their superior head-to-head record against Barcelona, giving Beckham his first title since he joined Real Madrid.

Initially out of favour with manager Fabio Capello, Beckham started only a few games at the beginning of the season, as the speedier José Antonio Reyes was normally preferred on the right wing. In the first nine matches Beckham started, Real lost seven.

On 10 January 2007, after prolonged contract negotiations, Real Madrid's sporting director Predrag Mijatović announced that Beckham would not remain at Real Madrid after the end of the season. However, he later claimed that he was mistranslated and that he actually said that Beckham's contract had not been renewed yet.

On 11 January 2007 Beckham announced that he had signed a five-year deal to play for Los Angeles Galaxy beginning 1 July 2007. On 13 January 2007 Fabio Capello said that Beckham had played his last game for Real Madrid, although he would continue to train with the team. Capello backtracked on that statement and Beckham rejoined the team for their match against Real Sociedad on 10 February 2007 – he scored and Real Madrid won. In his final UEFA Champions League appearance, Real Madrid were knocked out of the competition (by the away goals rule) on 7 March 2007. Beckham had made a total of 103 appearances in the Champions League, the third highest number of any player at the time.

On 17 June 2007, the last day of the La Liga season, Beckham started in his final match for the club, a 3-1 win over Mallorca, which saw them clinch the title from Barcelona. Although he limped off the field, he was replaced by José Antonio Reyes who scored two goals and the team won the season's La Liga title, their first since Beckham had signed with them. Although both finished level on points, Madrid took the title because of their superior head-to-head record, capping a remarkable six-month turnaround for Beckham.

At the end of the season, Real Madrid announced that they would try to untie David Beckham's transfer to LA Galaxy with him playing with improved form, but were unsuccessful, mainly due to LA Galaxy's refusal to listen.

A month after the conclusion of Beckham's Real career, Forbes magazine reported that he had been the party primarily responsible for the team's huge increase in merchandise sales, a total reported to top US$600 million during Beckham's four years at the club.

It was confirmed on 11 January 2007 that David Beckham would be leaving Real Madrid to join Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. The following day, Beckham's official press conference was held in conjunction with the 2007 MLS SuperDraft.

Beckham's contract with Los Angeles Galaxy took effect on 11 July, and on 13 July, was officially unveiled as a Galaxy player at The Home Depot Center. Beckham chose to wear number 23. It was announced that Galaxy jersey sales had already reached a record figure of over 250,000 prior to this formal introduction.

On 21 July, Beckham made his Galaxy debut after coming on in the 78th minute in a 1–0 loss to Chelsea during the World Series of Soccer. Two weeks later, Beckham made his league debut as a substitute on 9 August versus D.C. United.

Beckham returned to the pitch the following week, again facing D.C. United, in the SuperLiga semi-final on 15 August. During this game he had many firsts with the Galaxy; his first start, first yellow card and first game as team captain. He also scored his first goal for the team, from a free kick, and also made his first assist, for Landon Donovan in the second half. These goals gave the team a 2–0 victory, and a place in the North American SuperLiga final versus CF Pachuca on 29 August.

During the SuperLiga final against Pachuca, Beckham injured his right knee, with an MRI scan revealing that he had sprained his medial collateral ligament and would be out for six weeks. He returned to play in the final home match of the season. The Galaxy were eliminated from playoff contention on 21 October, in the final MLS match of the season, a 1–0 loss to the Chicago Fire. Beckham played as a substitute in the match, bringing his season-totals to; eight matches played (5 league), one goal scored (0 league), and three assists (2 league).

Beckham trained with Arsenal from 4 January 2008 for three weeks, until he returned to the Galaxy for pre-season training.

Beckham scored his first league goal with the Galaxy on 3 April against the San Jose Earthquakes in the ninth minute. On 24 May 2008, the Galaxy defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3–1, giving the Galaxy their first winning record in two years and moving the club into first place in the Western Conference. In the match Beckham scored an empty-net goal from 70 yards out. The goal marked the second time in Beckham's career that he had scored from his own half, the other being a 1996 goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Overall, however, the Galaxy had a disappointing year, failing to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs.

In 2008, Beckham's success in the England national team under Fabio Capello led to speculation that he may return to Europe in order to retain match fitness for the World Cup qualifying matches in 2009. On 22 October 2008, Milan announced their intent to sign Beckham on loan from January 2009. Despite this and other speculation, Beckham made it clear that the move in no way signaled his intent to leave MLS and announced his intent to return to the Galaxy in time for the start of the 2009 season in March. The Milan loan was confirmed on 30 October 2008 with Beckham set to link up with the Rossoneri on 7 January 2009. At Milan, he chose the number 32 shirt previously worn by Christian Vieri, as both the number 7 and 23 shirts were already used by other players. After his physical, Beckham was told by a club doctor that he believed he can continue playing football for another five years, when he will be 38. Beckham was also told that he had an "exceptional physique," similar to Maldini and Costacurta which allowed them to play beyond the age of 38.

Beckham made his Serie A debut for Milan against Roma on 11 January 2009, and played 89 minutes of the 2–2 draw. He scored his first goal in Serie A for Milan in a 4–1 victory over Bologna on 25 January, his third appearance for the club.

Though Beckham was expected to return to L.A. in March, after impressing at the Italian club, scoring two goals in his first four matches and assisting on several more, rumors began to swirl that Beckham would stay in Milan, with the Italian club reportedly offering to pay a multi-million dollar fee for the English legend. The rumours were confirmed on 4 February, when Beckham stated that he was seeking a permanent transfer to Milan, in a bid to sustain his England career through the 2010 World Cup. It was widely believed to be unlikely that Galaxy would prevent the deal from going through, assuming an acceptable transfer fee is agreed for MLS' most marketable player, which would clear up considerable cap space and provide much-needed funding to rebuild the squad.

On 7 February, it was announced that Galaxy officials had rejected Milan's initial offer, believed to be in the region of $6 million, claiming the offer was "too low" and that "time was running out" to conclude the deal. It was believed that the Los Angeles club were seeking an offer in the $10-15 million range, but wanted the deal finished quickly, as the club wanted to rebuild the squad with the transfer money prior to the start of the league season in March. Several Milan players and manager Carlo Ancelotti expressed their desire for Beckham to stay with the club permanently, with Ancelotti even pleading with Milan executives to "make sacrifices" to sign Beckham.

In a surprise twist, on 13 February, L.A. announced that Milan had failed to make the expected second offer prior to MLS commissioner Don Garber's deadline, and that Beckham would be staying with the Galaxy for the 2009 season. The American club also revealed that Beckham did have a release clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free at the conclusion of the 2009 season. It remains to be seen whether Beckham will attempt to force the transfer through. On 14 February, Milan chief executive, Adriano Galliani dismissed the MLS deadline, calling it a "tactic" and said that Milan were still hopeful of signing Beckham. Ancelotti also referred to Beckham as "indispensable" to his squad and reiterated his desire that Beckham stay with the club. It wasthought that if a deal cannot be reached, Beckham may consider buying out his contract with L.A. and sign with Milan for free. On 17 February, Galliani stated that talks with L.A. were expected to resume claiming that a deal could be done the last week of February. On 2 March, the Los Angeles Times reported that Beckham's loan had been extended through mid-July.

Beckham made his first appearance for the England national football team on 1 September 1996, in a World Cup qualifying match against Moldova. He became an automatic first-choice player at United during the 1996–97 season, helping them to retain the Premier League championship, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers.

Beckham had played in all of England's qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and was part of the England squad at the World Cup finals in France, but the team's manager Glenn Hoddle publicly accused him of not concentrating on the tournament, and he did not start in either of England's first two matches. He was picked for their third match against Colombia and scored from a long-range free kick in a 2–0 victory, which was his first goal for England.

In the second round (last 16) of that competition, he received a red card in England's match against Argentina. Beckham, after having been fouled by Diego Simeone, kicked Simeone whilst lying on the floor, striking him on the calf. Simeone later admitted to trying to get Beckham sent off by over-reacting to the kick and then, along with other members of his team, urging the referee to send Beckham off. The match finished in a draw and England were eliminated in a penalty shootout. Many supporters and journalists blamed him for England's elimination and he became the target of criticism and abuse, including the hanging of an effigy outside a London pub, and the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with a picture of him centred on the bullseye. Beckham also received death threats after the World Cup.

The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England's 3–2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, a match where Beckham set up two goals, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match. Beckham responded with a one-fingered gesture and, while the gesture attracted some criticism, many of the newspapers that had previously encouraged his vilification asked their readers to stop abusing him.

On 15 November 2000, following Kevin Keegan's resignation as England manager in October, Beckham was promoted to team captain by the caretaker manager Peter Taylor, and then kept the role under new manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. He helped England to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals, with their performances including an impressive 5–1 victory over Germany in Munich. The final step in Beckham's conversion from villain to hero happened in England's 2–2 draw against Greece on 6 October 2001. England needed to win or draw the match in order to qualify outright for the World Cup, but were losing 2–1 with little time remaining. When Teddy Sheringham was fouled eight yards (7 m) outside the Greek penalty area, England were awarded a free-kick and Beckham ensured England's qualification with a curling strike of the kind that had become his trademark. Shortly afterwards, he was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2001. He once again finished runner-up, to Luís Figo of Portugal, for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

He was partially fit by the time of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and played in the first match against Sweden. Beckham scored the winning goal of the match against Argentina with a penalty, causing Argentina to fail to qualify for the knockout stage. England were knocked out of the tournament in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Brazil. The following month, at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Beckham escorted Kirsty Howard as she presented the Jubilee Baton to the Queen.

Beckham played in all of England's matches at Euro 2004, but the tournament was a disappointment for him. He had a penalty saved in England's 2–1 defeat to France and missed another in a penalty shootout in the quarter final against Portugal. England lost the shootout and went out of the competition.

Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in January 2005 and was involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. In October 2005, Beckham's sending off against Austria made him the first ever England captain to be sent off and the first (and only) player to be sent off twice while playing for England. He captained England for the 50th time in a friendly international against Argentina the following month.

In England's opening game at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, against Paraguay on 10 June 2006, Beckham's free kick led to an own-goal by Carlos Gamarra, and England won 1–0. In England's next match, played against Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June 2006, Beckham's cross in the 83rd minute led to Peter Crouch's goal, which put England into the lead 1–0. Beckham gave another assist to Steven Gerrard. In the end they won 2–0. He was named Man-of-the-Match by tournament sponsor Budweiser for this game.

During England's second round match against Ecuador, Beckham scored from a free kick in the 59th minute, becoming the first ever English player to score in three World Cups, and giving England a 1–0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals. He was sick before the game and vomited several times as a result of dehydration and illness after he scored the winning goal.

In the quarter-final against Portugal, Beckham was substituted following an injury shortly after half time and the England team went on to lose the match on penalties (3-1), the score having been 0–0 after extra time. After his substitution, Beckham was visibly shaken and emotional for not being able to play, being in tears at one point.

A day after England were knocked out of the World Cup, an emotional Beckham made a statement in a news conference saying that he had stepped down as England captain, saying, "It has been an honour and privilege to captain my country but, having been captain for 58 of my 95 games, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under Steve McClaren". (Beckham had actually won 94 caps up to that point.) He was succeeded by Chelsea captain John Terry.

Having stepped down as captain after the World Cup, Beckham was dropped completely from the England national team selected by new coach Steve McClaren on 11 August 2006. McClaren claimed that he was "looking to go in a different direction" with the team, and that Beckham "wasn't included within that". McClaren said Beckham could be recalled in future. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kieran Richardson and the World Cup alternative to Beckham, Aaron Lennon, were all included, although McClaren eventually opted to employ Steven Gerrard in that role.

On 26 May 2007, Steve McClaren announced that Beckham would be recalled to the England squad for the first time since stepping down as their captain. Beckham started against Brazil in England's first match at the new Wembley Stadium and put in a positive performance. In the second half he set up England's goal converted by captain John Terry. It looked as though England would claim victory over Brazil, but newcomer Diego equalised in the dying seconds. In England's next match, a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia, Beckham sent two trademark assists for Michael Owen and Peter Crouch, helping England to prevail 3-0.

Beckham had assisted in three of England's four total goals in those two games, and he stated his desire to continue to play for England after his move to the MLS.

On 22 August 2007, Beckham played in a friendly for England against Germany, becoming the first ever to play for England while with a non-European club team. On 21 November 2007, Beckham earned his 99th cap against Croatia, setting up a goal for Peter Crouch to tie the game at 2–2. Following the 2–3 loss, England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 Finals. Despite this, Beckham said that he has no plans to retire from international football and wanted to continue playing for the national team. After being passed over by new England coach and Beckham's former manager at Real Madrid, Fabio Capello, for a friendly against Switzerland which would have given him his hundredth cap, Beckham admitted that he was not in shape at the time, as he had not played a competitive match in three months..

On 20 March 2008, Beckham was recalled to the England squad by Capello for the friendly against France in Paris on 26 March. Beckham became only the fifth Englishman to win 100 caps. Capello had hinted on 25 March 2008 that Beckham had a long term future in his side ahead of crucial qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On 11 May 2008, Capello included an in-form Beckham in his 31 man England squad to face the USA at Wembley Stadium on 28 May before the away fixture with Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June. Beckham was honored before the match by receiving an honorary gold cap representing his 100th cap from Sir Bobby Charlton, and was given a standing ovation from the crowd. He played well and assisted John Terry on the match-winning goal. When substituted at half-time for David Bentley, the pro-Beckham crowd booed the decision.. In a surprise move, Capello handed Beckham the captaincy for England's friendly against Trinidad & Tobago on 1 June 2008. The match was the first time since the 2006 World Cup that Beckham had skippered England and marked a dramatic turnaround for Beckham. In two years, he had gone from being dropped completely from the England squad to being reinstated (though temporarily) as England captain.

During the 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Belarus in which England won 3-1 in Minsk, Beckham came off the bench in the 87th minute to earn his 107th cap making him England's 3rd highest capped player in history over-taking Sir Bobby Charlton in the process. On 11 February 2009, Beckham made history by drawing level with Bobby Moore's record of 108 caps for an English outfield player, coming on as a substitute for Stewart Downing in a friendly match against Spain.

Former manager Sir Alex Ferguson said that he "practised with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn't care about." He maintained his training routine at Real Madrid and even when his relationship with management was strained in early 2007, Ramon Calderon and Fabio Capello praised Beckham for maintaining his professionalism and commitment to the club.

Beckham was the first England player ever to collect two red cards and the first England captain to be sent off. Beckham's most notorious red card was during the 1998 FIFA World Cup: after Argentina's Diego Simeone had fouled him, Beckham lashed out with his leg and the Argentine fell. England went on to lose the game on penalties, and Beckham was listed as a public enemy.

For Real Madrid he amassed 41 yellow cards and four red cards.

Beckham helped to keep Wayne Rooney's temper in check on several occasions.

In 1997, Beckham started dating Victoria Adams, after she attended a Manchester United match. She was famously known as "Posh Spice" of the pop music group Spice Girls, one of the world's top pop groups at the time, and his team was also enjoying a great run of success. Therefore, their relationship instantly attracted a great deal of media attention. The couple were dubbed "Posh and Becks" by the media. He proposed to Victoria on 24 January 1998 in a restaurant in Cheshunt, England.

He married Adams at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on 4 July 1999, and her name changed to Victoria Beckham. The wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham's teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple's son Brooklyn, then four months old, was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony, as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! Magazine, but newspapers were still able to obtain photographs showing them sitting on golden thrones. 437 staff were employed for the wedding reception, which was estimated to have cost £500,000.

In 1999, the Beckhams purchased their most famous home, unofficially dubbed Beckingham Palace, in Hertfordshire, north of London. It is estimated to be worth £7.5 million. David and Victoria have three sons: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born 4 March 1999 in London, England), Romeo James Beckham (born 1 September 2002 in London, England) and Cruz David Beckham (born 20 February 2005 in Madrid, Spain, the name is Spanish for "cross"). Both Brooklyn and Romeo's godfather is Elton John and godmother is Elizabeth Hurley. They have stated that they would like to have more children, especially a daughter.

In April 2007, the family purchased their new Italian villa in Beverly Hills, California, to coincide with Beckham's transfer to the LA Galaxy in July. The mansion, priced at $22 million, is near the homes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and talk-show host Jay Leno, in an exclusive gated community in the hills overlooking the city.

In December 2008, Beckham and his bodyguard were sued by paparazzi photographer Emicles Da Mata, who claimed that he was assaulted by them when attempting to take a picture of Beckham in Beverly Hills. Da Mata is seeking unspecified damages for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Beckham's fame extends beyond the pitch; in much of the world his name is "as instantly recognizable as that of multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM." Beckham's relationship and marriage to Victoria, who has been famous in her own right as part of the musical group Spice Girls, contributed to David's celebrity beyond football.

Beckham became known as a fashion plate, and together with Victoria, the couple became lucrative spokespeople sought after by clothing designers, health and fitness specialists, fashion magazines, perfume and cosmetics manufacturers, hair stylists, exercise promoters, and spa and recreation companies. One recent example is a new line of aftershave and fragrances called David Beckham Instinct.

In 2002 Beckham was hailed as the ultimate "metrosexual" by the man who invented the term and has been described as such by scores of other articles since.

In 2007, the Beckhams were reportedly paid $13.7 million to launch this fragrance line in the US. In the world of fashion, David has already appeared on the covers of countless magazines. In 2007, U.S. covers have included the men's magazine Details, and with his wife for the August 2007 issue of W.

According to Google, "David Beckham" was searched for more than any other sports topic on their site in 2003 and 2004.

On 22 July, a huge private welcoming party was held for the couple at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. A-list celebrities attending included Steven Spielberg, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Oprah Winfrey.

Beckham has many endorsement deals making him one of the most recognizable athletes throughout the world. On 31 December 2008, it was announced that Pepsi Co. was ending its endorsement deal with the player after a 10-year collaboration.

Beckham has supported UNICEF since his days at Manchester United and in January 2005 the England Football Captain became a Goodwill Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF's Sports for Development program.

On 17 January 2007, Rebecca Johnstone, a 19-year-old cancer patient in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada received a surprise phone call from Beckham. After the conversation, he sent her a Real Madrid Jersey with his signature on it. Rebecca passed away on 29 January 2007.

Beckham is a spokesman for Malaria No More, a New York-based non-profit launched in 2006. Malaria No More's mission is to end deaths caused by malaria in Africa. Beckham appears in a 2007 Public Service Announcement advertising the need for inexpensive bed nets. The TV spot currently airs in the U.S. on FOX Networks including Fox Soccer Channel, and can also be seen on YouTube.

Since he has joined MLS, he has been a very public advocate in the U.S. for related charities such as MLS W.O.R.K.S. On 17 August 2007, he conducted a youth clinic in New York City's Harlem, along with other current and former MLS players. This was in advance of his first New York City area match the following day against Red Bull New York. That team's Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Ángel also were with Beckham, teaching skills to disadvantaged youth to benefit FC Harlem Lions.

Beckham never personally appeared in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, except in archive footage. He and his wife wanted to make cameo appearances but scheduling proved difficult, so the director used lookalikes instead.

Beckham makes a cameo appearance with Zidane and Raúl, in the 2005 film Goal!: The Dream Begins. Lookalike Andy Harmer, who played him in Bend It Like Beckham, also appears here in one party scene as Beckham. Beckham himself appears in the sequel Goal! 2: Living the Dream... in a larger role, when the film's lead character gets transferred to Real Madrid. This time the story centers around the Real Madrid team, and besides Beckham, other real life Real Madrid players also appear on and off the pitch, alongside the fictional characters. Beckham also will appear in Goal! 3, scheduled for release in 2009.

Despite moving to Los Angeles, Beckham has expressed no personal interest in pursuit of acting roles, saying he is too "stiff".

Beckham has captained England 59 times during his tenure as England captain, one of the most in England's history. With his free kick goal against Ecuador in the second round of the 2006 World Cup, Beckham gained membership into two of football's exclusive clubs: he became the only English player — and the 21st player regardless of nationality — to score in three world cups; Real Madrid team-mate Raúl also achieved this feat a few days earlier. It also made him only the fifth player in World Cup history to score twice from a direct free kick; the other four were Pelé, Roberto Rivelino, Teófilo Cubillas and Bernard Genghini (Beckham had previously scored this way against Colombia in the first round of the 1998 World Cup). All three goals were against South American teams (Colombia, Argentina and Ecuador) and from set pieces (the two aforementioned free kicks and a penalty against Argentina).

Beckham has many tattoos on his body, one of which is the name of his wife Victoria, written in Hindi, because Beckham thought it would be "tacky" to have it in English. Another tattoo, written in Hebrew, reads אני לדודי ודודי לי הרעה בשושנים, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, that shepherds among the lilies." This is from the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible, and a popular Jewish paean to fidelity. Beckham has also been ridiculed in the press for looking like a "Hell's Angel biker" and a "football yob" due to his ever-expanding number of tattoos, their design and location. He often wears long sleeved shirts when playing football to cover his tattoos from those who may feel uncomfortable about them due to their beliefs.

Beckham has attributed the many tattoos to his obsessive-compulsive disorder, and claims to be addicted to the pain of the needle.

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Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel juli 1991.JPG

Peter Bolesław Schmeichel MBE (born 18 November 1963 in Gladsaxe, Denmark) is a retired Danish professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper, and was voted the "World's Best Goalkeeper" in 1992 and 1993. He is best remembered for his most successful years at English club Manchester United, whom he captained to the 1999 UEFA Champions League to complete The Treble. He was a key member of the Denmark national football team that won Euro 92.

Schmeichel is famous for his intimidating physique (he is 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) tall and wears specially-made size XXXL football shirts) and his attacking threat. During his career, Schmeichel scored 11 goals, including one for the Danish national team, a great feat for a keeper. He is also the most capped player for the Denmark national team, with 129 games between 1987 and 2001. Apart from Euro 92, he played for his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and three additional European Championship tournaments. He captained the national team in 30 matches.

Schmeichel is also known for his trademark shouts at his defence. He would often yell out at the defenders in charge of helping him defend the goal for blunders and poor defending and would occasionally single out various individuals in the defence to make his feelings heard.

Today, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of football. The IFFHS ranked Schmeichel among the top ten keepers of the 20th century in 2000, and in 2001, Schmeichel won a public poll held by Reuters, when the majority of the 200,000 participants voted him as the best goalkeeper ever, ahead of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks. In 2003, Schmeichel was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. In March 2004, he was named as one of the "125 greatest living footballers", at the FIFA 100 celebrations.

He holds the record for the greatest clean sheets-to-games ratio in the Premiership with 42% of the games he played in the Premiership ending without his team conceding.

His son, Kasper Schmeichel, is also a goalkeeper and currently plays for Manchester City F.C.

Born in Søborggård parish, Gladsaxe, Denmark, to a Polish father and a Danish mother, Peter Schmeichel held Polish citizenship until 1970 when he, his father, and his siblings became Danish citizens. He spent his early years growing up in the town of Buddinge, Copenhagen, and began his football career playing for a team in the adjacent suburb of Høje-Gladsaxe. His first match came on 7 August 1972, at the age of 8. After a two-and-a-half-year unbeaten run, Schmeichel was approached by Hero, a team from a few divisions above Høje-Gladsaxe and with one of the largest youth football schemes in Denmark. Hero later merged with Gladsaxe to form Gladsaxe-Hero BK, and Schmeichel was presented with the opportunity to play for the Zealand FA's junior representative team.

Eventually graduating to the Gladsaxe-Hero senior squad, Schmeichel met his first mentor in Svend Aage Hansen, the first team coach at the club, and later to become his father-in-law. With Gladsaxe-Hero already relegated from the Danish Third Division with three games to go, Hansen promoted Schmeichel and six others from the youth team for a match against Birkerød. The team lost 1–0, but Schmeichel received mentions in local newspapers for his personal performance. At the end of the season, Hansen explained to Schmeichel his plan for the future, which involved Schmeichel spending two more seasons with Gladsaxe-Hero before moving on to Hvidovre, playing for the Danish national team, and eventually having a successful career abroad. Schmeichel admits that he had received an offer to play for B1903's youth team, but he turned it down as the club "seemed a bit boring".

The following season came down to the wire, with Gladsaxe-Hero needing only to avoid defeat to Stubbekobing to prevent relegation from the Danish National League. In the end, Schmeichel played one of the games of his career and Gladsaxe-Hero won the match. At the end of the game, Hansen's daughter, Bente, ran onto the pitch and hugged Schmeichel. The two ended up going out as a couple, and they eventually got married.

Before becoming a professional footballer, Schmeichel had to work a number of jobs to make ends meet. His first job came in the dyeing department of a textile factory, but his concerns with the factory's policy on safety eventually forced him to hand in his notice. He then spent 12 months as a cleaner at an old people's home, before taking up an office job with the World Wildlife Fund. He originally worked in the organisation's shops, but three weeks after he joined, the store manager quit and Schmeichel was promoted to the position of sales manager. Soon after, Schmeichel was called upon to do his four weeks of compulsory military service. However, this coincided with Hvidovre's summer training camp in Portugal, which he was permitted to go on with the proviso that he completed his military service the following month. Nevertheless, the delicate organisational situation that arose between the WWF, the Danish defence department and Hvidovre prompted Schmeichel to give up working for the WWF. A job with his father-in-law's flooring firm came next, until he realised that his knees could not support his 15 stone (95 kg) frame for eight hours a day, and he was offered a job with the advertising firm owned by Hvidovre's chairman, Niels Erik Madsen. This was to be his last job outside football, as he was offered a contract with Brøndby the following spring.

Despite the fifth best defence in the league, conceding 40 goals in 30 games, Schmeichel and Hvidovre finished in 14th place and were relegated in 1985. After only a single season, the club bounced right back to the 1st Division, but Schmeichel was lost by Hvidovre to Danish runners-up Brøndby IF before the 1987 season. Winning the Danish league in his first year, he joined a club which he helped turn into a success. He debuted for the Danish national team in May 1987, under national manager Sepp Piontek, and was selected for the Euro 88 tournament, where he eventually became Denmark's starting goalkeeper.

In all, Schmeichel and Brøndby won four championships in five seasons. The climax of his Brøndby career would come in the European 1991 UEFA Cup competition, which saw Schmeichel as an important part of the team that reached the semi-finals. The club was eliminated by AS Roma with a last-minute goal by Rudi Völler. Following the tournament, Schmeichel was voted 10th in "The World's Best Goalkeeper 1991" poll by the IFFHS.

Following his showings on the international scene, Manchester United bought him in 1991 for £530,000, a price which was described in 2000 by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the "bargain of the century". Schmeichel played the bulk of his career for United, eight years in total. With United, Schmeichel won five FA Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United finished runners-up in Schmeichel's first season (also winning the Football League Cup for the first time in the club's history), but it was on the international stage that Schmeichel enjoyed his biggest success that year. In the Danish national team under new national manager Richard Møller Nielsen, Schmeichel was Denmark's starting goalkeeper at the Euro 92 tournament which they won. He saved a penalty kick from Marco van Basten in the semi-final, and most notably held a cross with one hand in the final. He made a string of important saves during the tournament, and was elected "The World's Best Goalkeeper 1992".

In the 1992-93 season, 22 clean sheets from Schmeichel helped United win the Premier League championship for the first time in 26 years. Schmeichel was once again named "The World's Best Goalkeeper" in 1993. In January 1994, Schmeichel fell out with Ferguson, as United had squandered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Liverpool. The two had a row where Schmeichel "said the most horrible things", and he was subsequently sacked by Ferguson. A few days later, Schmeichel made an improvised apology to the other players. Unknown to him, Ferguson was eavesdropping on this, and he let Schmeichel stay at Manchester United. Schmeichel and United repeated the Premier League championship win at the end of the season.

Despite being a goalkeeper, he could also single handedly provide a deadly offensive threat. He would run into the attack on corner kicks if his team was behind. The sight of him going up for the corner was a great distraction to opposing defenders. He scored a goal in this fashion, for Man United, in a 1995 UEFA Cup match against Rotor Volgograd. He scored in the last minutes of the game, though United was eliminated from the tournament on the away goals rule.

In April 1996, during a game against Coventry, Coventry defender David Busst colided with United defender Denis Irwin and suffered a compound fracture of the leg. The break was so bad that the bone pierced through the skin and his blood had to be cleared off the pitch. Schmeichel, who witnessed the incident, reportedly vomited at the sight and had to go for counseling afterwards.

Schmeichel competed with Denmark at the Euro 96 hosted by England. The defending European Champions went out in the preliminary group stage, despite delivering results equivalent to the Euro 92 tournament.

Following a February 1997 match against Arsenal, Schmeichel was accused of racism by Arsenal striker Ian Wright. During the game, Schmeichel and Wright had a number of controversies, and at the end of the game, the two players confronted each other on their way off the pitch. After the game, news emerged of a police inquiry into a November 1996 match between the two clubs, where it was alleged that Schmeichel had made a racist remark. After months of politicizing by The FA and The PFA, who wanted a "converted" Schmeichel as their posterboy of the "Kick Racism out of Football" campaign, no evidence was found and the case was dropped.

Under new national manager Bo Johansson, Schmeichel was a part of the Danish squad at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He was one of the leading members of the Danish campaign, which ended in a 2-3 quarter-final defeat to Brazil.

Schmeichel ended his Manchester United career on the highest note, when Schmeichel and United won the Treble, the FA Premier League title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, in the same season. In that year's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, Schmeichel saved a penalty kick by Dennis Bergkamp in the last minutes of the game, to send the game into extra time. In the absence of the suspended Roy Keane, he captained United in the UEFA Champions League final in May 1999. German opponents Bayern Munich had a 1-0 lead until the dying minutes of the game, when United received a corner kick. Schmeichel ran into the attack attempting to cause confusion, and Teddy Sheringham scored the equalising goal. A few seconds later, Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the 2-1 winner for United to ensure that Schmeichel's United career ended on the highest possible note.

Schmeichel decided to leave English football at the end of the 1999 season, as the gruelling 60 game league and cups season, which came with playing with a successful club, was threatening to undermine his high standards at the age of 35. He moved to Sporting CP, where he won the 1999-2000 Portuguese Premier League title in his first season with the club. He scored his only goal for the Danish national team, a penalty kick against Belgium, in a June 2000 warm-up match for the Euro 2000. He represented Denmark at the Euro 2000, where the team was eliminated in the group stage. He retired from the national team in April 2001, when he played a planned farewell match against Slovenia.

His second year with Sporting would be remarkable in that it was the first time in 14 years, since his Hvidovre days, that Schmeichel's club would finish below second place in the domestic league competition. Schmeichel stated his wish to activate a contract option of a further year at Sporting in January 2001, but eventually decided to leave the club when his contract ran out in June 2001. He considered a number of options for the future, before deciding to keep on playing.

He returned to England with Aston Villa in July 2001. On 20 October 2001, Schmeichel became the first goalkeeper to score a Premiership goal, in a 3-2 defeat away to Everton. A goalkeeper scoring in the Premier League is a feat only repeated twice, by Blackburn Rovers' Brad Friedel on 21 February 2004, also from a corner kick, and by Tottenham Hotspur's Paul Robinson from a free-kick on 17 March 2007. Schmeichel failed to complete his single season at Villa due to a clause in his contract stipulating that he would get to play in every game that he was fit for. This meant that after a string of poor performances, Graham Taylor decided to release Schmeichel from his contract in order to be able to play Peter Enckelman.

Schmeichel played his last active year for Manchester City during the 2002-03 season. Schmeichel's record in the Manchester derby is exceptional, in that he was never on the losing side. During his nine years with Manchester United, they were unbeaten against Manchester City, while in his single season with City, they won at Maine Road and drew at Old Trafford. His last major action in football was to make a world class save against Liverpool at Anfield, in a game which City went on to win. This ultimately led to Liverpool missing out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the season.

In December 1999, Schmeichel became the club owner of his childhood club Hvidovre IF. He withdrew from the club in June 2002. He worked as a pundit for the BBC after retiring, being a regular analyst on Match of the Day until 2005. He then began hosting live UEFA Champions League-matches at Danish television channel TV3+, with Preben Elkjær and Brian Laudrup the studio pundits. However, he still works occasionally as a pundit for the BBC. Most recently, Schmeichel appeared as a pundit during the FA Cup Third Round match between two of his former clubs, Manchester United and Aston Villa on 5 January 2008 alongside host Gary Lineker, and pundits Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer. Schmeichel's tough line of punditry has often been praised by critics and fans alike.

He has a son, Kasper, who plays as goalkeeper for Manchester City. Kasper was called up for the Danish U-19 squad in August 2003 and he got his first experience of first team football on loan at League 2 side Darlington in 2005.

His popularity in Britain is perhaps best measured by Chesney Battersby-Brown on the Manchester-based soap Coronation Street naming his former dog (a Great Dane) "Schmeichel".

He also took part in Soccer Aid, and played for the Rest of the World team, who lost 2-1 after he was substituted at half-time. Schmeichel was a contestant on the 2006 series of the BBC's popular Saturday night TV programme Strictly Come Dancing, but was voted out by the public on his 43rd birthday. He recently appeared on The Weakest Link in the UK, but he was voted off as the weakest link in the first round.

On 31 August 2007, an investor group including Schmeichel announced their intention to invest 250 million DKK (33.5 million €) in the football club Brøndby IF and make Peter Schmeichel sports director. This was announced in a press conference in Danish at a hotel in Copenhagen. This decision is a result of the major crisis that the club Schmeichel made his breakthrough with is in. The offer fell through when Brøndby failed to accept the offer within the group's deadline.

In February 2007 he became the host in a new quiz, on TV3 named 1 mod 100 (the Danish version of 1 vs. 100). In 2008, he became the host of the European version of the Discovery Channel programme, Dirty Jobs. He is also a pundit for TV3 Denmark's coverage of UEFA Champions League football. He and his wife currently reside in Espergærde, Denmark.

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Premier League

The Premier League trophy

The Premier League is an English professional league for football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. It is contested by 20 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with The Football League. The Premier League is a corporation in which the 20 member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each. It is sponsored by Barclays Bank, and is therefore officially known as the Barclays Premier League.

The competition formed as the FA Premier League on 20 February 1992 following the decision of clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from The Football League, which was originally founded in 1888, and take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal. The Premier League has since become the world's most watched sporting league. It is the world's most lucrative football league, with combined club revenues of around £1.4 billion in 2005–06, which are expected to rise to around £1.8 billion for 2007–08 due to media revenues. It is also ranked first in the UEFA rankings of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five-years, ahead of Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A.

A total of 42 clubs have competed in the Premier League, but only four have won the title: Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, and Chelsea. The current champions are Manchester United, who won their tenth Premier League title in the 2007–08 season, the most of any Premier League team.

Despite significant European success during the 1970s, the 1980s had marked a low point for English football. Stadiums were crumbling, supporters endured poor facilities, hooliganism was rife, and English clubs were banned from European competition following the events at Heysel in 1985. The Football League First Division, which had been the top level of English football since 1888, was well behind leagues such as Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga in attendances and revenues, and several top English players had moved abroad. However, by the turn of the 1990s the downward trend was starting to reverse; England had been successful in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. UEFA, European football's governing body, lifted the five-year ban on English clubs playing in European competitions in 1990 and the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards, which proposed expensive upgrades to create all-seater stadiums in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, was published in January of that year.

Television money had also become much more important; the Football League received £6.3million for a two-year agreement in 1986, but when that deal was renewed in 1988, the price rose to £44m over four years. The 1988 negotiations were the first signs of a breakaway league; ten clubs threatened to leave and form a "super league", but were eventually persuaded to stay. As stadiums improved and match attendance and revenues rose, the country's top teams again considered leaving the Football League in order to capitalise on the growing influx of money being pumped into the sport.

At the close of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league was tabled that would bring more money into the game overall. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game's top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League. The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. The argument given at the time was that the extra income would allow English clubs to compete with teams across Europe.

In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the FA Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association's then headquarters in Lancaster Gate. This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.

The 22 inaugural members of the new Premier League were Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.

As of the end of the 2007–08 season, there had been 16 completed seasons of the Premier League. The league held its first season in 1992–93 and was originally composed of 22 clubs. The first ever Premier League goal was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United in a 2–1 win against Manchester United. Due to insistence by FIFA, the international governing body of football, that domestic leagues reduce the number of games clubs played, the number of clubs was reduced to 20 in 1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams promoted. On 8 June 2006, FIFA requested that all major European leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga be reduced to 18 teams by the start of the 2007–08 season. The Premier League responded by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction. Ultimately the 2007–08 season kicked off again with 20 teams. The league changed its name from the FA Premier League to simply the Premier League in 2007.

The Premier League is operated as a corporation and is owned by the 20 member clubs. Each club is a shareholder, with one vote each on issues such as rule changes and contracts. The clubs elect a chairman, chief executive, and board of directors to oversee the daily operations of the league. The Football Association is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, but has veto power as a special shareholder during the election of the chairman and chief executive and when new rules are adopted by the league.

The Premier League sends representatives to UEFA's European Club Forum, the number of clubs and the clubs themselves chosen according to UEFA coefficients. The European Club Forum is responsible for electing three members to UEFA's Club Competitions Committee, which is involved in the operations of UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and UEFA Cup.

There are 20 clubs in the Premier League. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top two teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the third to sixth placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place.

The top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top three teams directly entering the Group Stage. The fourth-placed team enters the Champions League at the Play-Off Round for Non-Champions and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group stage. The fifth-team automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League, and the sixth and seventh-placed teams can also qualify, depending on the winners of the two domestic cup competitions. If one of the cup winners qualifies for Europe through their league position, the sixth-placed team in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. If both of the cup winners qualify for Europe through their league position, the sixth and seventh-placed teams in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. Cup runners-up will not qualify for Europe unless they do so through their league finish. A further place in the UEFA Europa League is available via the Fair Play initiative. If the Premier League has the highest Fair Play ranking in Europe, then the highest ranked team in the Premier League Fair Play standings not already qualified for Europe will automatically qualify for the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round. If the Premier League has an average Fair Play score of eight or greater, but does not have the highest Fair Play ranking in Europe, then it will be placed in a drawing with the other leagues with an average Fair Play score of eight or greater, and two leagues will be selected at random, with the highest rank ranked teams from those leagues' Fair Play standings not already qualified for Europe receiving the last two spots in the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round.

An exception to the usual European qualification system happened in 2005, when Liverpool won the Champions League, but did not finish in a Champions League qualification place in that season's Premier League. UEFA gave special dispensation for Liverpool to enter the Champions League, giving England five qualifiers. UEFA subsequently ruled that the defending champions qualify for the competition the following year regardless of their domestic league placing. However, for those leagues with four entrants in the Champions League, this means that if the Champions League winner falls outside of its domestic league's top four, it will qualify at the expense of the 4th placed team in the league. No association can have more than four entrants in the Champions League.

The Premier League was recently promoted to the top of the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five-year period. This broke the eight-year dominance of the Spanish league, La Liga. The top three leagues in Europe are currently allowed to enter four teams into the Champions League. The UEFA president Michel Platini, had proposed taking one place from the top three leagues and allocating it to that nation's cup winners. This proposal was rejected in a vote at a UEFA Strategy Council meeting.

In the same meeting that Platini's suggestion was that FA Cup winners should qualify for the Champion's League rather than the UEFA Cup was rejected, it was however agreed upon that the 3rd-placed team in the top four leagues would receive automatic qualification for the Group Stage, rather than entry into the Third Qualifying Round, while the 4th placed team would enter the Play-Off Round for Non-Champions, guaranteeing an opponent from one of the top 15 leagues in Europe. This was part of Platini's plan to increase the amount of teams qualifying directly into the Group Stage, while simultaneously increasing the number of teams from lower-ranked nations in the Group Stage.

The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, with total club revenues of over £1.4 billion in 2005–06 season according to Deloitte, making it 40% above its nearest competitor: Italy's Serie A. Revenues have increased to approximately £1.8 billion in the 2007–08 season, when new media rights deals started. Based on November 2007 exchange rates, £1.8 billion converts to a gross annual league revenue of about US$3.7 billion. For the past few seasons, the Premier League's gross revenue (£1.4bn) has been the fourth highest for any sports league worldwide, behind the annual revenues of the three most popular North American major sports leagues (the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association), but ahead of the National Hockey League.

In terms of world football, the Premier League clubs are some of the richest in the world. Deloitte, who annually release figures on club revenues through its "Football Money League", listed eight Premier League clubs in the top 20 for the 2005–06 season. No other league has more than four clubs in this table, and while La Liga rivals Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona take up two of the top 3 places, no other Spanish clubs are listed in the top 20. Premier League teams have dominated the list for many years, and even topped the list for almost a decade until the 2004–05 season. After the Premier League's new TV deal went into effect, the league-wide increase in revenues is expected to increase the Premier League clubs' standing in the list, and there is a possibility that a Premier League club will be top of the list.

Another significant source of regular income for Premier League clubs remains their revenue from stadium attendances, which, with the 2005–06 average attendance of 34,364 for league matches, is the fourth highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world, ahead of Serie A and La Liga, but behind the German Bundesliga. This represents an increase of over 60% from the average attendance of 21,126 recorded in the league's first season (1992–93). However, during the 1992–93 season the capacities of most stadiums were reduced as clubs replaced terraces with seats in order to meet the Taylor Report's 1994–95 deadline for all-seater stadiums. The 2005–06 figure is lower than the Premier League's record average attendance of 35,464, set during the 2002–03 season.

Television has played a major role in the history of the Premier League. The money from television rights has been vital in helping to create excellence both on and off the field. The League's decision to assign broadcasting rights to BSkyB in 1992 was at the time a radical decision, but one that has paid off. At the time pay television was an almost untested proposition in the UK market, as was charging fans to watch live televised football. However, a combination of Sky's strategy, the quality of Premier League football and the public's appetite for the game has seen the value of the Premier League's TV rights soar.

The Premier League sells its television rights on a collective basis. This is in contrast to some European Leagues, including Serie A and La Liga, in which each club sells its rights individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going to the top few clubs. The money is divided into three parts: half is divided equally between the clubs; one quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table; the final quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on television, with the top clubs generally receiving the largest shares of this. The income from overseas rights is divided equally between the twenty clubs.

The first Sky television rights agreement was worth £191 million over five seasons. The next contract, negotiated to start from the 1997–98 season, rose to £670 million over four seasons. The third contract was a £1.024 billion deal with BSkyB for the three seasons from 2004–05 to 2006–07. The league brought in £320 million from the sale of its international rights for the three-year period from 2004–05 to 2006–07. It sold the rights itself on a territory-by-territory basis. Sky's monopoly was broken from August 2006 when Setanta Sports was awarded rights to show two out of the six packages of matches available. This occurred following an insistence by the European Commission that exclusive rights should not be sold to one television company. Sky and Setanta paid a total of £1.7 billion, a two-thirds increase which took many commentators by surprise as it had been widely assumed that the value of the rights had levelled off following many years of rapid growth. Setanta also hold rights to a live 3 pm match solely for Irish viewers. The BBC has retained the rights to show highlights for the same three seasons (on Match of the Day) for £171.6 million, a 63% increase on the £105 million it paid for the previous three year period. Radio Telefís Éireann broadcast the highlights package in Ireland. Sky and BT have agreed to jointly pay £84.3 million for delayed television rights to 242 games (that is the right to broadcast them in full on television and over the internet) in most cases for a period of 50 hours after 10 pm on matchday. Overseas television rights fetched £625 million, nearly double the previous contract. The total raised from these deals is more than £2.7 billion, giving Premier League clubs an average media income from league games of £45 million a year from 2007 to 2010. They also receive smaller amounts from media rights for the domestic cups and in some cases substantial amounts from media rights for European matches.

The TV rights agreement between the Premier League and Sky has faced accusations of being a cartel, and a number of court cases have arisen as a result. An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in 2002 found BSkyB to be dominant within the pay TV sports market, but concluded that there were insufficient grounds for the claim that BSkyB had abused its dominant position. In July 1999 the Premier League's method of selling rights collectively for all member clubs was investigated by the UK Restrictive Practices Court, who concluded that the agreement was not contrary to the public interest. The BBC's highlights package on Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as other evenings when fixtures justify, will run until 2013. Television rights alone for the period 2010 to 2013 have been purchased for £1.782bn.

Promoted as "The Greatest Show On Earth", the Premier League is the world's most popular and most watched sporting league, followed worldwide by over half a billion people in 202 countries, generally on networks owned and/or controlled by NewsCorp or Setanta Sports, who also own the UK and Ireland match broadcasters. In the United States coverage is shared between Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports North America; NewsCorp sometimes buys pitch-side advertising boards with the Fox Soccer Channel logo replacing that of Sky. In Australia, Fox Sports (Australia), owned by News Ltd, shows the games with a Viewers Choice option for up to five live games and up to nine games live on any given game-week.

The Premier League is particularly popular in Asia, where it is the most widely distributed sports programme. For example, in the People's Republic of China, matches attract television audiences between 100 million and 360 million, more than any other foreign sport. Due to this popularity, the league has held three pre-season tournaments in Asia, the only Premier League affiliated tournaments ever to have been held outside England. In July 2003, the FA Premier League Asia Cup was held in Malaysia, featuring three Premier League clubs, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Birmingham City, and the Malaysia national team. In 2005 the Asia Trophy featured a similar format, held in Thailand and featuring the Thailand national team competing against three English clubs—Everton, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers, the last of which won the trophy. In 2007, the Barclays Asia Trophy was held in Hong Kong and featured Liverpool, Portsmouth, Fulham and the Hong Kong FA Cup winning team, South China, with Portsmouth winning the competition.

The FA has faced difficulty fighting internet copyright infringement. In an effort to stop the broadcasting of streams of live games on the net they have hired NetResult, a company that specialises on protecting trademark rights online.

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Premier League is the increasing gulf between the Premier League and the Football League. Since its split with the Football League, many established clubs in the Premier League have managed to distance themselves from their counterparts in lower leagues. Owing in large part to the disparity in revenue from television rights between the leagues, many newly promoted teams have found it difficult to avoid relegation in their first season in the Premier League. In every season except 2001–02 (Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham) at least one Premier League newcomer has been relegated back to the Football League. In 1997–98 all three promoted clubs were relegated at the end of the season.

The Premier League distributes a small portion of its television revenue to clubs that are relegated from the league in the form of "parachute payments". Starting with the 2006–07 season, these payments are in the amount of £6.5 million over the club's first two seasons in lower leagues, although this rose to £11.2 million per year for clubs relegated in 2007–2008. Designed to help teams adjust to the loss of television revenues (the average Premier League team receives £45 million while the average Football League Championship club receives £1 million), critics maintain that the payments actually widen the gap between teams that have reached the Premier League and those that have not, leading to the common occurrence of teams "bouncing back" soon after their relegation.

Nigerian football officials have claimed the increase in popularity of the Premier League and subsequent world wide media coverage is having a damaging effect on the national leagues of other footballing countries, with Nigeria being a recent example, citing lower domestic attendances when games clash with Premier League fixtures, and the drain of young talent being lured to the Premier League by wage offers no local club can hope to match. On the other hand, one could also argue that the money that comes into these clubs paid for their footballing exports, and the inspirational effect of watching the Premier League on local desire for playing football, is of local benefit. In an extreme case of worldwide influence, after the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, seven people died in Nigeria after clashes between rival supporters of Chelsea and Manchester United.

The current Premier League trophy was created by Royal Jewellers Asprey of London. It weighs 4 st (25 kg; 56 lb), and is 76 cm (30 in) tall, 43 cm (17 in) wide and 25 cm (9.8 in) deep. Its main body is solid sterling silver and silver gilt, while its plinth is made of malachite, a semi-precious stone. The plinth has a silver band around its circumference, upon which the names of the title-winning clubs are listed. Malachite's green colour is also representative of the green field of play. The design of the trophy is based on the heraldry of Three Lions that is associated with English football. Two of the lions are found above the handles on either side of the trophy—the third is symbolised by the captain of the title winning team as he raises the trophy, and its gold crown, above his head at the end of the season. The trophy has borne several names on its face since it was first created, when it read "The F.A. Premier League". The one Manchester United lifted in 2006–07 read "The Barclays Premiership", while the 2007–08 trophy simply read "Premier League". From the 2008–09 season onwards, the trophy will read "Barclays Premier League".

For the inaugural season of the Premier League, clubs were obliged to supply their own match balls, which were usually provided by the clubs' kit manufacturers. In 1993, the Premier League came to an agreement with Mitre for them to supply the league's teams with their match balls. Mitre supplied balls to the Premier League for seven years, starting with the Mitre Pro Max (1993-1995) and then the Mitre Ultimax (1995-2000).

The 2000–01 season saw Nike take over as match ball supplier, introducing the Nike Geo Merlin ball, which had been used in the UEFA Champions League. The Geo Merlin was used for four seasons before being replaced by the Nike Total 90 Aerow, which ran for another two seasons. The 2004–05 season also saw the introduction of a yellow "Hi-Vis" ball for use in the winter months. Next came the Nike Total 90 Aerow II, which featured an asymmetrical design to help players judge the flight and spin of the ball. Most recently, as of the 2008–09 season, the official ball of the Premier League is the Nike Total 90 Omni, which features yet another pattern in dark red and yellow and a modified panel design.

A total of 42 clubs have played in the Premier League from its inception in 1992 and the end of the 2008–09 season. Two other clubs (Luton Town and Notts County) were signatories to the original agreement that created the Premier League, but were relegated prior to the inaugural Premier League season and have not subsequently returned to the top flight. For a list of all clubs past and present see List of FA Premier League clubs and an amalgamated table can be found at All-time FA Premier League table. For a list of winners and runners-up of the Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see English football champions.

Seven clubs have been members of the Premier League for every season since its inception. This group is composed of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.

The following 20 clubs will compete in the Premier League during the 2008–09 season.

Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players — all players with EU nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits. The only area where the Premier League's player registration rules are more restrictive than those of some other football leagues, such as those of those of Belgium and Portugal, is that academy level non-EU players have little access to English football by law. Also, clubs competing in the Champions League or UEFA Cup must comply with UEFA's player-eligibility rules for those competitions.

At the inception of the Premier League in 1992–93, just eleven players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches were 'foreign' (players hailing from outside of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland). By 2000–01, the number of foreign players participating in the Premier League was 36%. In the 2004–05 season the figure had increased to 45%. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up, and on 14 February 2005 Arsenal were the first to name a completely foreign 16-man squad for a match. No English manager has won the Premier League; the four managers to have won the title comprise two Scots (Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United, ten wins) and Kenny Dalglish (Blackburn Rovers, one win)), a Frenchman (Arsène Wenger, Arsenal, three wins) and a Portuguese (José Mourinho, Chelsea, two wins).

Over 260 foreign players compete in the league, and 101 players from England's domestic leagues competed in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the Premier League was the most represented league with more than eighty players in the competition, including 21 of the 23 players in England's squad.

As a result of the increasingly lucrative television deals, player wages rose sharply following the formation of the Premier League. In the first Premier League season the average player wage was £75,000 per year, but subsequently rose by an average 20% per year for a decade, peaking in the 2003–04 season, when the annual salary of the average Premier League player was £676,000.

The record transfer fee for a Premier League has been broken several times over the lifetime of the competition. Prior to the start of the first Premier League season Alan Shearer became the first British player to command a £3 million-plus transfer fee. The record rose steadily in the Premier League's first few seasons, until Alan Shearer made a world record breaking £15 million move to Newcastle United in 1996. This stood as a British record for four years until it was eclipsed by the £18 million Leeds paid West Ham for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester United subsequently broke the record three times by signing Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastián Verón and Rio Ferdinand. Chelsea broke the record in May 2006, when they signed Andriy Shevchenko, from AC Milan. The exact figure of the transfer fee was not disclosed, but was reported as being around £30 million. This was eclipsed by Manchester City's transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid on 1 September 2008 for £32.5 million.

David James holds the record for the most Premier League appearances, overtaking the previous record held by Gary Speed of 535 appearances in February 2009.

Players in the Premier League can compete for the informal competitions of Goal of the Month and Goal of the Season. Other titles players compete for include the top-scorer for a season. Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most Premier League goals with 260. Shearer finished among the top ten goal scorers in 10 out of his 14 seasons in the Premier League and won the top scorer title three times. During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 14 other players have reached the mark, with Nicolas Anelka being the most recent when he scored against his former side Bolton Wanderers in December 2008.

Since the first Premier League season in 1992–93, 13 different players have won or shared the top scorers title. Thierry Henry won his third consecutive and fourth overall scoring title by scoring 27 goals in the 2005–06 season. This surpassed Shearer's mark of three titles which he won consecutively from 1994–95 through 1996–97. Other multiple winners include Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who have won two titles each. Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season (34) – for Newcastle and Blackburn respectively. Cole's record came in the 1993–94 season, while Shearer's came in 1994–95, both of which were 42-game seasons. Shearer's mark of 31 goals from a 38-game season in 1995–96 was equalled in the 2007–08 season by Cristiano Ronaldo, a mark which surpassed the record of most goals by a midfielder in a season.

Manchester United became the first team to have scored 1,000 goals in this league after Cristiano Ronaldo scored, in a 4–1 defeat by Middlesbrough, in the 2005–06 season, having been the first team to have conceded a Premier League goal following the League's inception. Arsenal and Chelsea are the only other teams to have reached the 1,000-goal mark. The highest-scoring match to date in the Premier League occurred on 29 September 2007 when Portsmouth defeated Reading 7–4.

Only Ryan Giggs of Manchester United has scored in all 17 Premier League seasons.

The National Division of the FA Women's Premier League is the Premier League's female counterpart. Most of its clubs are affiliated with Premier League and Football League sides; however, teams are semi-professional; no professional teams have existed since Fulham returned to semi-pro status in 2003. The league comprises 12 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with the Northern Division and Southern Division. The champions of each are promoted to the National Division, and the bottom two National Division clubs are relegated.

Since forming in 1993 the Women's Premier League has been dominated by Arsenal, who have won ten of the fifteen league titles. The women's game has a much lower profile than that of the Premier League, with Women's Premier League teams typically playing matches at grounds owned by non-league men's clubs.

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Kevin Keegan

Keegan with a supporter at an HSV match.

Joseph Kevin Keegan, OBE (born 14 February 1951), commonly known as Kevin Keegan, is a former international footballer, and former manager of several English clubs and the England national football team.

He began his playing career at Scunthorpe United in 1968, before moving to Liverpool of Division One in 1971. At Liverpool, Keegan won three First Division titles, two UEFA Cups, two FA Cups and the European Cup. He also gained his first England cap in 1972, and moved to German top-flight club Hamburger SV in the summer of 1977. At Hamburg he was crowned European Footballer of the Year in both 1978 and 1979, won the Bundesliga title in 1978–79, and reached the European Cup final the following year. Keegan moved to Southampton that summer, and spent two seasons at the club before a transfer to second-tier Newcastle United in 1982. He helped Newcastle to promotion in his debut season, and retired from football in 1984, having been capped 63 times for England, scoring 21 goals.

He moved into management at Newcastle United in 1992, again returning the club to the top-flight, as champions. After promotion, Keegan's Newcastle finished in second in the First Division in 1995–96, before leaving the club in 1997. After a spell at Fulham, he took charge of the England team in 1999 but resigned in the autumn of 2000, following a loss against Germany in World Cup qualification (this was also the last game at the old Wembley Stadium). He then became manager of Manchester City in 2001 and spent four years at the club before resigning in 2005. He had been out of football for almost three years when he returned to Newcastle United for a second spell as manager in January 2008. This spell lasted only eight months, however, as Keegan resigned on 4 September 2008 following days of speculation regarding a dispute with the club directors.

Born in Armthorpe near Doncaster to English parents of Irish ancestry, attending McAuley Catholic high school, as a schoolboy Keegan had a trial for league side Coventry City, under manager Jimmy Hill. Despite being one of two players kept on for an extra six-week period, the club did not offer Keegan a contract. At the age of 16, Keegan was spotted playing at amateur level for his employers at the time, and signed by Division 4's Scunthorpe United - one of just two professional sides in the division.

Making his debut against Peterborough United at the age of 17, he made 29 league starts in his first season. Keegan became a regular in the first team by the 1969–70 season, playing all 48 league games for the club. Although in a side who consistently finished in the bottom four of the division, this season also saw the team reach the fifth-round of the FA Cup, beating Football League First Division side Sheffield Wednesday along the way. Keegan played regularly in a creative right midfield role for the Scunthorpe United first team despite his age - he scored 18 goals in 124 games for the club before a £35,000 transfer fee took him north to Bill Shankly's Liverpool in 1971, at the age of 20.

On 14 August 1971, Keegan made his Liverpool debut against Nottingham Forest at Anfield, scoring after 12 minutes. Although originally signed as a midfielder, his ability soon prompted manager Bill Shankly to employ Keegan upfront as a parner for John Toshack. His move to Liverpool also alerted England to his presence, and the forward made his debut at under-23 level later in 1971. His full debut came 12 months after arriving in Liverpool, in a World Cup qualifier against Wales at Ninian Park. Keegan's first goal for his country also came in a game against Wales in Cardiff. This time it was a British Home Championship match that England won 2–0 on 11 May 1974; his third full cap.

In 1973, Keegan won his first domestic honours. Playing alongside John Toshack, Keegan helped Liverpool win their first League championship in seven years as well as the UEFA Cup. Keegan scored twice in the first leg of the final as Liverpool overcame Borussia Mönchengladbach 3–2 on aggregate.

The following year Keegan was again a frequent scorer but Liverpool lost the League title to a Leeds United team who had gone unbeaten for a then-record 29 games at the start of the season. However, Liverpool progressed to the FA Cup final. Their campaign in the competition had started with a tie against the club which had rejected Keegan, Doncaster Rovers, and it was Keegan who scored both Liverpool goals in a 2–2 draw. Liverpool won the replay and Keegan scored twice more on the way to Wembley, including a lob-volley over the head of England colleague Peter Shilton in the semi-final against Leicester City at Villa Park. In the final, Keegan scored two as Liverpool beat Newcastle United 3–0. It was the first brace in an FA Cup final since Mike Trebilcock scored twice for Everton in 1966.

Keegan's next visit to Wembley was three months later in the Charity Shield game, the traditional curtain-raiser to a new season between the League champions and the FA Cup winners. However, Keegan was sent off, along with Leeds captain Billy Bremner, after a scuffle on the pitch. Both players removed their shirts in protest, with Keegan visibly shaken by the decision. The fight was shown that night on BBC television and both were fined £500, with Keegan being suspended for three games and Bremner eight.

The next year saw Keegan scoring goals and representing his club and country, but 1975 was a trophyless season for Liverpool and England failed to qualify for the 1976 European Championships. There were numerous honours for Keegan over the next two years, however, as Liverpool again won the League championship and UEFA Cup. Keegan scored in both legs of the UEFA Cup final against FC Bruges, although he had only scored once previously during Liverpool's run in the competition.

In 1977, Keegan helped Liverpool progress towards an unprecedented "treble" of League championship, FA Cup and European Cup, though midway through the season he announced his intention to leave in the summer to play abroad. Nevertheless, Keegan was irrepressible as Liverpool clinched the title and reached the finals of both Cup competitions. Keegan's last appearance in a Liverpool shirt on home soil, however, saw Liverpool lose the FA Cup final to bitter rivals Manchester United, ending the possibility of the "treble". The European Cup final in Rome against Borussia Mönchengladbach was four days later. Keegan did not score, but he did make a late run which led to a foul inside the penalty area by Berti Vogts. This led to a penalty which was successfully converted by Phil Neal, sealing a 3–1 win.

Keegan's transfer to Hamburg was agreed between the FA Cup final and the European Cup final of 1977, although Keegan had negotiated a maximum transfer fee the season before. On his arrival in Germany, Keegan was the highest paid player in the country, and was built up by the press and club as the "saviour" of Hamburg. He scored in pre-season friendlies against Barcelona FC and former club Liverpool, but the club suffered defeat in the European Super Cup against the Merseysiders, and was sent off in a mid-season friendly against FC Lübeck after knocking out an opposition player with a punch. An unhappy first few months at the club gave way to a more successful season. Although the club finished tenth in the league in 1977–78, Keegan's 12 goals helped him pick up a personal honour, the France Football European Footballer of the Year award for 1978.

The 1978–79 season saw a vast improvement on the club's 1978 finish. New manager Branko Zebec imposed a tough training regime, and Keegan's increasing grasp of the German Language, coupled with the newly imposed discipline meant that Hamburg finished as league champions for the first time in nineteen years. The club's success also translated into individual recognition for Keegan, who picked up the European Footballer of the Year award for a second consecutive year, as well as the nickname Mighty Mouse from the fans, after the cartoon superhero.

Hamburg's European campaign of 1979–80 saw Keegan score two goals to help Hamburg past FC Dinamo Tbilisi, Soviet champions who had beaten Liverpool to reach the latter stages. The club lost to Nottingham Forest in the final in Madrid, however, and this was coupled domestically with being beaten to the Bundesliga title by Bayern Munich. Having negotiated a maximum transfer fee of £500,000 in his contract the year before and agreeing a move in February, Keegan left Hamburg for Southampton in the summer of 1980.

On 10 February 1980, Lawrie McMenemy called a press conference at the Potters Heron hotel, Ampfield to announce that the European Footballer of the Year would be joining Southampton F.C. in the forthcoming summer. The news caused surprise throughout the world of football and around the city of Southampton, as Southampton were a relatively small club. The club were beginning to become established in the top division, but this signing showed how persuasive their manager could be, especially when Keegan captained England in the 1980 European Championships in Italy.

Keegan made his Southampton debut at Lansdowne Road in a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers on 23 July 1980.

Keegan's two seasons at The Dell saw him as part of a flamboyant team also containing Alan Ball, Phil Boyer, Mick Channon and Charlie George and in 1980–81 Saints scored 76 goals, finishing in sixth place, then their highest league finish.

In the following season, Keegan was able to produce some of his best form and at the end of January 1982 Southampton sat at the top of the First Division table, but a run of only three wins from the end of February meant a rather disappointing 7th place finish. Despite this, Keegan was voted the PFA Player of the Year, and awarded the OBE for services to Association Football. Keegan had scored 26 of the team's 72 goals and was voted the club's Player of the Year.

He finally reached a World Cup when England got to the 1982 finals in Spain. He was duly named in the squad for the tournament but was suffering from a chronic back injury and was unfit to play in all of England's group games. In a last, desperate effort to play in a World Cup (he knew that he would not be around for the 1986 competition) he secretly hired a car and drove from Spain to a specialist he knew in Germany for intensive treatment. It worked to the extent that he came on as a substitute for a crucial second round pool game against the host nation which England had to win. Unfortunately, his few minutes of World Cup football saw him miss a point blank header which he directed wide.

When Bobby Robson became the new England coach after that World Cup, Keegan was left out of his first squad, a decision he learned of from the media rather than Robson himself. Keegan expressed his public displeasure and never played for his country again. He won a total of 63 caps in a period in which England had failed to qualify for three major tournaments and scored 21 goals. He captained his country 31 times.

Keegan had fallen out with McMenemy over the manager's failure to strengthen Southampton's defence (which conceded 67 goals in 1981–82) whilst the team was at the top of the table. There were also rumours that McMenemy had charged the whole team of cheating after a 3–0 defeat by Aston Villa in April 1982 to which Keegan took great exception. Although Keegan joined Saints' next pre–season tour, he had already decided to move on to seek a new challenge, and a few days before the start of the 1982–83 season he signed for Second Division Newcastle United for a fee of £100,000.

Keegan joined Newcastle United and spent two seasons there, during which time he was extremely popular with the supporters. He played 78 times, scored 48 goals and helped them to promotion from the Second Division in 1984, within a team which also contained Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Terry McDermott. His contribution to Newcastle's promotion, which ended their six-year absence from the First Division, earned him iconic status on Tyneside.

Keegan announced his retirement prior to the end of the 1983–1984 season. His last league game came against Brighton and Hove Albion, scoring in a 3–1 victory. Keegan's final appearance for Newcastle came in a friendly against Liverpool some days later, leaving the pitch in a helicopter whilst still dressed in his kit. He moved with his family to Spain, stating that he would never enter football management, although he did carry out occasional work as a football pundit for British television.

Keegan made his England debut on 15 November 1972 in a 1–0 World Cup qualifying win over Wales. Keegan only appeared in the two matches against Wales during this campaign as England failed to qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup.

He scored his first international goal in his third appearance, also against Wales, on 11 May 1974. He scored 21 goals in total for his country in 63 games. He was given the captaincy by manager Don Revie in 1976 after Gerry Francis fell from favour. He retained the captain's armband until his international retirement after the 1982 World Cup.

He only managed one World Cup appearance though, after England failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 tournaments. His World Cup experience was limited to just 26 minutes after injury wrecked his chance in England's 1982 campaign. He recovered sufficiently to appear in their final game against hosts Spain, during which he famously missed a headed chance to break the deadlock.

On 5 February 1992, almost eight years after his final game as a player, Keegan returned to football as manager of Newcastle United. They had been relegated from the top flight in 1989 and narrowly missed out on promotion in 1990, but in 1991 they had failed to make the playoffs and at several stages in 1991–92 they had occupied bottom place in the Second Division. Following the dismissal of previous manager Ossie Ardiles, Keegan was appointed to prevent Newcastle from being relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time.

Survival was achieved and Newcastle would be playing in the new Division One for the 1992–93 season. Most observers tipped Newcastle to finish higher than the 20th position they had occupied the previous season, but an 11–match winning start to the season saw them establish themselves as most people's favourites for the Division One title by October. They led the league virtually all season, and the club record signing of Bristol City striker Andy Cole in February further strengthened their side; Cole netted 12 goals in the club's final 12 games. The addition of Charlton Athletic's Robert Lee bolstered the midfield.

Newcastle were promoted to the Premier League as Division One champions.

Top scorer David Kelly and influential midfielder Gavin Peacock were both sold during the close season, and Keegan brought striker Peter Beardsley back to Newcastle from Everton, six years after he had been sold by Newcastle to Liverpool.

1993–94 was an enormous success for Newcastle as they finished third in the Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup, bringing European football to the club for the first time since the 1970s. Andy Cole was the Premier League's top scorer with 34 goals from 40 games, and managed a club record total of 41 goals in all competitions.

Keegan then strengthened his side by signing Swiss World Cup defender Marc Hottiger, Belgium's defensive midfielder Philippe Albert, and Norwich City's quick winger Ruel Fox.

Newcastle won their first six games of the 1994–95 season to top the league and they appeared capable of winning their first league title since 1927. But the shock departure of Andy Cole to Manchester United in January weakened their attack, and the 12 point lead on the league that they had established was eventually lost, and finished the season sixth place in the final table; not enough for even another UEFA Cup campaign.

Keegan made several important additions to the Newcastle side in the summer of 1995; Reading goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, Paris St Germain's French winger David Ginola, QPR striker Les Ferdinand and Wimbledon defender Warren Barton.

Newcastle performed well in the first half of the 1995–96, going 10 points ahead on 23 December 1995 and regaining a similar lead in January. But a 1–0 defeat at the hands of fellow title challengers Manchester United cut the gap to one point on 4 March, and within two weeks Newcastle's lead was overhauled and they were unable to recover it, with a 1–1 draw for Newcastle against Tottenham on the final day of the season handing the title to Manchester United, whose 3–0 triumph at Middlesbrough would have won them the title regardless of Newcastle's result against Tottenham.

It was during the race for the 1995–96 title that Keegan famously directed remarks at the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson during an interview on live television. His outburst—"I'd love it if we beat them! Love it!"—is frequently referred to when describing the relationship between the pair. It also appears in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

Keegan then broke the world transfer fee record by signing Blackburn and England striker Alan Shearer. Shearer made an instant impact on his native Tyneside, despite being on the losing side on his debut, a 4–0 FA Charity Shield defeat at the hands of Manchester United, and scored two months later in a 5–0 victory against United in the Premier League. Newcastle briefly topped the league at several stages in the first half of the season and Shearer led the league scoring 25 goals.

On the Newcastle United DVD 'Magpie Magic', it is said that chairman Sir John Hall asked for a long term commitment as manager from him which he was unwilling to give, whilst it also states that many still rumour that the pressure and criticism of selling Andy Cole and dropping the 12 point lead in the 1994–95 season had taken its toll on him.

He was succeeded by Kenny Dalglish, the same man who had replaced him as a player at Liverpool 20 years earlier, but Newcastle were unable to win the title and finished 2nd place in the same season, and in the following season finished outside the top ten in the Premier League, although they were FA Cup runners-up.

Keegan returned to football on 25 September 1997 as "Chief Operating Officer" (a similar role to a Director of Football) at Division Two club Fulham, with Ray Wilkins as head coach. Fulham finished sixth in the final table, but Wilkins was sacked just before the first leg of the playoff semi-final and Keegan took over as manager.

Keegan was unable to inspire Fulham to overcome Grimsby Town in the playoffs, but good form in 1998–99 — helped by the acquisition of many players who would normally have been beyond the budgets of most Division Two clubs — clinched them the Division Two title and promotion to Division One, but Keegan left at the end of the season to concentrate on his duties as England manager, having succeeded Glenn Hoddle in February 1999.

Fulham replaced Keegan with Paul Bracewell.

After weeks of speculation, Keegan was named as the new England coach in February 1999, succeeding Glenn Hoddle. He led the team to a winning start with 3–1 victory over Poland to reignite England's Euro 2000 qualifying campaign.

After an initial popular period as manager, he began to come under fire for his perceived tactical naivety. This came to a head during the unsuccessful Euro 2000 campaign, as England beat Germany, but lost 3–2 to both Romania and Portugal, despite having the lead in both games. The defeat against Romania ended their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-final.

Keegan resigned as England coach on 7 October 2000, after England lost to a Dietmar Hamann goal for Germany in their first 2002 World Cup qualifier in the last game to be played at Wembley Stadium before the old stadium was rebuilt. Keegan won only 38.9% of his games in charge, making him statistically the least successful permanent England manager (although unlike Don Revie (1974 – 1977) or Steve McClaren (2006 – 2007), Keegan achieved qualification to a major tournament for England).

On 24 May 2001, Keegan returned to football as successor to Joe Royle at Manchester City, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. Keegan signed experienced international players such as Stuart Pearce, Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia. That season, City were promoted as First Division champions after scoring 108 league goals.

In preparation for his second season as manager (2002–03) he signed Nicolas Anelka, Peter Schmeichel and Marc-Vivien Foé. That season saw Manchester City win against Liverpool at Anfield and take four points from Manchester United, but concede five goals away to Chelsea and at home to Arsenal, securing their Premier League status by finishing ninth. Keegan also guided City into the UEFA Cup, qualifying via the UEFA Fair Play ranking.

For 2003–04, the club's first season at the new City of Manchester Stadium, Keegan signed more players including Paul Bosvelt, David Seaman and Michael Tarnat. City started well and were fifth in the league on 5 November. Keegan's City team did well in the UEFA Cup tie against Belgian club Lokeren, winning over two legs, however a disappointing draw at home to Polish minnows Groclin led to their elimination from the UEFA Cup and was followed by a slump in form. City did not win again in the league until 21 February, and finished 16th in the league, although did well away to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on 4 February 2004; despite going in at half time 3–0 behind and with ten men after Joey Barton was sent off, Keegan's team came back to win 4–3.

2004–05 brought better form for Manchester City, but Keegan agreed to leave as manager on 10 March 2005 after telling the chairman his desire to retire from football at the end of the season. The club went on to finish eighth under his successor Stuart Pearce, and only missed out on a UEFA Cup place when Robbie Fowler missed a penalty in stoppage time of a 1–1 draw with Middlesbrough on the last day of the season.

After declaring his retirement from football in 2005, Keegan remained out of the media spotlight, working at the 'Soccer Circus' football school in Glasgow. In October 2007, he indicated he was unlikely to manage again.

On 16 January 2008, Keegan made a largely unexpected return to Newcastle United as replacement for the sacked Sam Allardyce. He arrived in time to see the FA Cup Third Round replay against Stoke City alongside owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort, in which thousands of Newcastle United fans attended to welcome the manager back to the club. He managed his first game at the club since 1997 against Bolton Wanderers on 19 January 2008. He awarded the club captaincy to Michael Owen, stating "He's not scared to give his opinion when he's right, and he's not scared to say what he feels. He's a tremendous professional, and he trains properly every day". Keegan announced on 22 January that he and Alan Shearer held talks about the two linking up with Shearer as his assistant, but decided against the idea, leaving the door open for him to take other roles he was interested in.

Keegan had a disappointing first eight games back at Newcastle, not winning a single match. However, on 22 March 2008, Keegan achieved the first victory of his second managerial spell, a 2–0 win against his former club, Fulham. This was his first win as Newcastle manager since beating Leeds United on 1 January 1997 and he followed it up with wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, maintaining his perfect record over the club's local rivals in the Tyne-Wear derby. Good results secured safety from relegation, allowing Keegan to plan for his stated contract length of the next three full seasons at the club. Newcastle's seven game unbeaten run came to an end in a home defeat to Chelsea, and they finished the season in twelfth place.

Having signed Argentina international winger Jonas Gutierrez, as well as fellow Argentina international defender Fabricio Coloccini from Deportivo La Coruna amongst others, Newcastle began the 2008–09 season with a 1–1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, having lost the previous season's fixtures 6–0 and 5–1.

From early on in the morning of 2 September 2008, following the closure of the transfer window at midnight, various media sources reported that Keegan had either resigned from the club or had been sacked, leading to fan protests around St. James' Park. The club released statements denying that he had left the club, but stated that talks were ongoing between Keegan and members of the board. On 4 September 2008, Keegan issued a statement confirming that he had resigned the same day, stating that "...a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want." Late on Friday 12 September 2008 it was reported Keegan met owner Mike Ashley in London in an attempt to resolve their differences; however, the meeting ended without a satisfactory conclusion for either party.

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers Association stated the following month that Keegan would consider a return to the club but only if those who hold the ownership are willing to develop a structure which he is happy with.

He is married to Jean and has two daughters, Laura Jane, born in Hamburg, and Sarah Marie, born in Southampton.

In 1976, Keegan competed in the BBC's television programme Superstars. Despite suffering severe cuts after crashing his bicycle, he insisted on re-racing and secured second place in the event, before going on to win that edition of the programme. He also advertised Brut aftershave alongside boxing legend Henry Cooper.

Keegan become renowned for his "poodle perm" hair in the 1970s, and has regularly appeared at the top of 'worst hairstyles' surveys.

His song "Head Over Heels in Love", written by Chris Norman and Pete Spencer, was released on 9 June 1979, and peaked at number 31 in the UK charts, but climbed to number 10 in Germany where Keegan was based at the time, and where Norman's band Smokie were very popular. He released a second single, England, on his return to England from Germany, but it failed to chart.

In April 1991 he was attacked while sleeping in his Range Rover by the M25 at Reigate Hill in Surrey. His assailants later admitted in court that they needed money for a drugs debt and had no idea they were attacking Kevin Keegan.

He is known for his charity appearances for the Lord's Taverners. Other players which have attended these events are Colin Salmon, David Seaman, Chris Tarrant, John Kettley, Robert Powell and Mary Nightingale.

In early July 2008, Flybe International announced the naming of one of their new Bombardier Q400 aircraft in honour of Keegan's service to Newcastle United, both as a player and as manager. The plane is used on the regular service from Newcastle International Airport to London Gatwick.

In February 2009, Keegan was banned from driving for six months after being caught doing 36mph in a 30mph zone on the A69 road in August 2008.

Updated on 19 November 2008.

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Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren.JPG

Stephen McClaren (born 3 May 1961) is an English football manager and former player. He is currently manager of Dutch side FC Twente. He managed the Premier League side Middlesbrough with whom he won the League Cup in 2004 and finished runners-up in the UEFA Cup in 2006. He was also assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson when Manchester United won the Treble in 1999.

McClaren is most widely known for being manager of England between 1 August 2006 and 22 November 2007, when he was sacked after England failed to qualify for the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. McClaren was heavily vilified by the English media in a similar personal manner as levelled at former manager Graham Taylor, the last England manager to fail to qualify for a major tournament (the 1994 FIFA World Cup), being dubbed 'The Wally with a Brolly', after his use of an umbrella to protect himself from rain during his final game in charge.

Stephen McClaren was born in May 1961 in the village of Fulford on the outskirts of York, the son of Margaret (née Bogg) and Brian McClaren who had married the previous year. Described as "Yorkshire born and bred", McClaren's ancestors worked variously as miners, brewers, cotton mill workers, labourers, farmworkers and in domestic service.

He is married to Kathryn with whom he has three sons. As of 2006, McClaren lived in the town of Yarm in Stockton-on-Tees.

As a player, McClaren was a midfielder who spent most of his career in the lower leagues of English football. The bulk of his playing career was with Hull City, who he joined in 1979 at the age of 18 after leaving school. He later played for Derby County, Lincoln City (on loan), Bristol City and Oxford United before an injury forced him to retire in 1992.

After retiring from playing McClaren began his coaching career as a youth and reserve team coach at Oxford United, where Denis Smith was manager. He moved back to Derby County in 1995, where he was assistant manager to Jim Smith. The pair won promotion to the Premier League in their first season in charge and later enjoyed further consolidation in the top flight.

In early 1999, McClaren moved to Manchester United as assistant to Alex Ferguson, replacing Brian Kidd. At the time he was so unknown he was introduced by United chairman Martin Edwards as "Steve McClaridge". His first half-season was distinguished by United winning the Treble, consisting of the Premier League title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. He developed the reputation as one of the most tactically astute coaches in the country, using modern methods such as video analysis and sports psychologists. United later won the League titles in 2000 and 2001, thus ensuring they won every title contested while McClaren was at the club.

In October 2000 McClaren was made a coach in the England national team by caretaker-manager Peter Taylor. He retained the position under permanent manager Sven-Göran Eriksson until November 2002, combining the job with his roles at club level. However, he returned to assist Eriksson as assistant manager shortly before Euro 2004 as Brian Kidd had undergone surgery for prostate cancer. He remained in the role up to and including the 2006 World Cup finals.

At the end of the 2000–01 season McClaren began looking for a managerial job, having decided his chances of succeeding Ferguson at Old Trafford were slim. With a positive reputation and closely linked with three Premier League vacancies, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson won the race to appoint him after McClaren turned down Southampton and West Ham United. In his first season, Middlesbrough reached the FA Cup semi-final, knocking out his previous employers Manchester United en route, but lost 0–1 to Arsenal. They finished twelfth in the league, a small improvement on the previous season's fourteenth placed finish. The following season bought another modest improvement, this time finishing eleventh.

In the 2003–04 season McClaren guided Boro to victory in the League Cup with a 2–1 win over Bolton Wanderers in the final. This was the club's first ever major honour and also guaranteed them qualification for a European competition for the first time in their 128-year history. In the following close season, McClaren was able to attract proven players Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Michael Reiziger and Mark Viduka to the Riverside Stadium. The signings paid dividends as the club reached the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup, having beaten more experienced sides such as S.S. Lazio, before being eliminated by Sporting Clube de Portugal. The club finished in seventh position in the Premier League—their best finish since 1975—ensuring qualification for the UEFA Cup for a second successive season.

The 2005–06 season proved to be the most eventful of McClaren's tenure at Middlesbrough. The club endured mediocre league form, humiliatingly losing at home to local rivals Sunderland (who went on to be relegated with a then record low points total) and suffering a 0–7 thrashing at Arsenal, putting the club in relegation form. During a 0–4 defeat at home to Aston Villa, a Middlesbrough fan ran onto the pitch and threw his season ticket at McClaren signifying his disgust at the club's performances. Boro eventually finished fourteenth but enjoyed greater success in the cup competitions, reaching the latter stages of both the FA and UEFA Cups. They lost 0–1 to West Ham United in the FA Cup semi-finals. In the UEFA Cup, Middlesbrough were losing on aggregate in the second legs of both the quarter and semi-final ties against FC Basle and FC Steaua Bucureşti respectively. After McClaren substituted defenders with attackers Boro produced two spectacular four goal comebacks in both ties to reach the final. In the final, however, Middlesbrough were outclassed by Sevilla FC and lost 0–4.

McClaren's five year tenure on Teeside saw him establish himself as Middlesbrough's most successful manager as he made the often difficult transition from coach to manager. He was also the most successful English manager of the early 21st century; he was the first Englishman to win a major honour since 1996 and first to reach the UEFA Cup final since 1984. However, many Boro fans were indifferent about his departure believing Steve Gibson, the club chairman, to be more important to their success. McClaren was accused by rival managers as having a "pot of gold" provided by Gibson to buy players, giving him an advantage over other teams when signing players. Despite this, towards the latter end of his tenure McClaren was criticised by supporters of using negative tactics and earning Middlesbrough the tag of a "dull" side. Some observers attributed Middlesbrough's success to the senior, experienced players in the side rather than McClaren's managerial ability.

After Eriksson announced in January 2006 that he would leave as England manager after the 2006 World Cup finals McClaren was placed on the Football Association's shortlist to succeed him alongside Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley, Martin O'Neill and Luiz Felipe Scolari. The FA first offered the position to Scolari, but he rejected the offer claiming that the role would mean excessive media intrusion in his life. McClaren was subsequently announced as Eriksson's successor on 4 May 2006 after signing a four year contract. The nature of his appointment earned him the nickname "Second Choice Steve". The appointment was praised by the likes of Alan Hansen, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Trevor Brooking. However, the majority of England fans on the BBC's 6-0-6 messageboards were dissatisfied with the FA's choice. McClaren assumed control of the national team on 1 August 2006. He chose popular former England coach Terry Venables as his assistant, a move seen by some as an attempt to try and counter the lack of enthusiasm for McClaren. He also hired public relations guru Max Clifford to manage his relationship with the media.

McClaren's first decision was to choose the new England captain. He decided to give the arm band to John Terry, the Chelsea defender and captain who at the time had 24 England caps, saying "I'm convinced he will prove to be one of the best captains England has ever had." In his first squad, McClaren dropped many of the national team's older players including Sol Campbell, David James and former captain David Beckham, saying he was planning for "a different direction." However, McClaren stated that there was still a chance that Beckham could be recalled in the future. McClaren was blessed with a relatively weak European Championship qualifying group from which to qualify, which with the exception of Croatia, was a group England were expected to win outright. After initially starting well with three wins, England hit a poor run of form between October 2006 and March 2007 with only one goal scored in five matches. During a European qualifier match against minnows Andorra in March 2007, McClaren and the England team received abuse from supporters during a poor performance in a 3-0 win. McClaren walked out of the post-match press conference following the Andorra game after only two minutes of questions, saying, "Gentlemen, if you want to write whatever you want to write, you can write it because that is all I am going to say. Thank you." England had fallen to fourth in their qualification group.

In May 2007, McClaren made a u-turn by recalling Beckham into the England squad. England subsequently had a run of four wins from six matches, which boosted the country's hopes of qualification for Euro 2008 before a defeat against Russia in October 2007, causing England's qualification fate to fall out of their hands. The FA's chief executive, Brian Barwick, gave his backing to McClaren, despite the defeat. McClaren was also backed by players Phil Neville and Steven Gerrard, his predecessor Eriksson, and the chief executive of the League Managers Association John Barnwell.

The results of other matches in England's qualification group meant that England would qualify if undefeated in their final group match against Croatia. The match was played at Wembley on 21 November 2007 and England lost 3-2; coupled with Russia's victory over Andorra, this meant that England would not be at Euro 2008. It was the first time in 14 years that England had not qualified for a major tournament, and the first time in 24 years that they had not qualified for the European Championships.

The following day, the FA held an emergency meeting at which McClaren was removed from the post of England coach along with his assistant manager Terry Venables. McClaren's tenure was the shortest of any England manager to date, spanning just 18 games in 16 months. On 14 December 2007, it was announced his post had been taken up by Fabio Capello commencing from 7 January 2008.

McClaren announced in February 2008 he would consider managing in either the Championship or abroad in his next job. In May 2008, McClaren had a brief spell coaching League Two side Darlington, assisting his former Oxford United team-mate Dave Penney.

In April 2008, the BBC announced McClaren would join them as a pundit for Euro 2008, working as analyst and co-commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live, alongside Alan Green, one of his harshest critics as England manager. The decision to employ McClaren as an 'expert analyst' was met with much criticism, notably from former BBC pundit Ian Wright. McClaren's first commentary game was Austria v Croatia on 8 June 2008, Croatia having been the team chiefly responsible for England's non-qualification for the tournament, having beaten England twice in qualifying.

In May 2008, McClaren was linked with a return to football as manager of the Dutch side FC Twente. He was in the crowd for a match against Ajax on 18 May 2008, seeing Twente qualify for the UEFA Champions League. In response to speculation, a Twente spokesman stated the club had 'no intention' of hiring McClaren in an interview with Sky Sports on 19 May 2008. However, on 30 May 2008, it was reported McClaren had held talks with Twente Chairman Joop Munsterman and had toured the club, despite opposition from some Twente fans to his possible appointment. When he was initially offered the FC Twente managers job, McClaren turned it down due to private issues and on 7 June 2008 he expressed an interest in the vacant managerial role at Blackburn Rovers. However on 20 June 2008 he was confirmed as the new manager of FC Twente.. In an interview with a Dutch journalist prior to FC Twente's Champions League qualifier against Arsenal on 13 August 2008, McClaren allegedly spoke English with a Dutch accent and unusual grammar, despite only being in the Netherlands for five weeks. This attracted some attention (and heavy derision) from the British press.. Despite all negative comments from the UK, McClaren managed to give FC Twente a very good start of the season, mainly by adding the ingredient of patience to a side that was used to combine swiftly. After 23 rounds of the Dutch competition, the team is second in the league, has reached the quarter finals in the Dutch cup and on top of that, the club survived group stages in the UEFA Cup, having beaten the Spanish side of Racing Santander 1–0 and Germany's Schalke 04, managed by McClaren's predeccesor at Twente Fred Rutten, 2–1. It was the first time in 30 years that the club qualified for matches after winter in European football.

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FA Community Shield

Chelsea tifo being carried through Wembley Stadium before the 2007 match

The Football Association Community Shield (formerly and colloquially known as the Charity Shield) is an English association football trophy contested in an annual match between the champions of the FA Premier League and the winners of the FA Cup, though this tradition was only established twenty years into the fixture's existence. It is equivalent to the Super Cups found in many countries. The Shield was first played for in 1908-09, replacing the Sheriff of London Charity Shield that had been introduced in 1898-99.

The match is contested at the beginning of the following season, and has since 1974 been played at Wembley Stadium, although it was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales while Wembley was being rebuilt. The newly built Wembley held the 2007 final for the first time since 2000. If a team wins The Double (both the Premier League and the FA Cup), then the Double winner plays the Premier League runner-up.

The Shield plays a major role for the FA in its efforts to raise funds for various charities throughout England. The sources for the funds include the net profits from admission tickets and sales of match day programmes. Parts of the fund are distributed to clubs who participated in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, who are then in turn asked to nominate a charity or community-based organisation which will receive the clubs' share of the fund. The remainder of the funds will then be donated to The FA Charity Partners.

The most recent Community Shield was played on 10 August 2008, at Wembley Stadium between Manchester United and Portsmouth. This was the first time since 1996 that a team outside of the Big Four competed in the competition. Manchester United won 3-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in regular time.

The Community Shield evolved from the Sheriff of London Charity Shield that had been introduced in 1898-99 as a professionals versus amateurs cup (the gentlemen and players tradition). The Football Association Charity Shield, as it was known at the time, was designed to replace the Sheriff of London Charity Shield after the leading amateur clubs fell out with the FA. The new format was to have the Football League First Division champions play the Southern League champions, and the first match was in 1908 between Manchester United (the First Division champions) and Queens Park Rangers (the Southern League champions). The match was drawn 1–1, so the game was replayed when Manchester United won 4–0. This is the only Charity Shield game to go to a replay. Both games were played at Stamford Bridge.

The competition format varied over the years: in 1913 the Shield was contested between Amateurs and Professionals XIs, while in 1921 the Shield was contested between the Football League and FA Cup winners for the first time. The format continued to vary in the 1920s, usually along the lines of Amateurs v. Professionals, including one year (1927) where the Professionals were represented by the FA Cup holders Cardiff City and the Amateurs by the Corinthians.

In 1930 the Football League winner v. FA Cup winner returned, and with a few exceptions, this format has remained to the present day. Notable exceptions include the 1950 Shield, which involved the England World Cup team against an FA team that had toured Canada that summer, and the 1961 Shield, when Tottenham Hotspur became the first team of the 20th century to win the Double. As they won both trophies, they instead faced a Football Association XI.

By then, the date of the game had been moved to the start of the season, from 1959 onwards. The question of which two teams should contest the Shield should one team win both the FA Cup and League continued to linger. In 1971, Arsenal became the second team to win the Double since the Shield's foundation, but owing to their commitments in the European Cup they could not take part. Leicester City were invited as Division Two champions to play FA Cup runners-up Liverpool instead and went on to win the trophy, despite having not won either the League or the FA Cup.

In 1974 the then FA secretary, Ted Croker, created the current format with the match always being played at Wembley Stadium and the money raised at the gate going to charity. The first game at Wembley was notable for the sendings off of Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner for fighting, shown that night on BBC television. Both were fined £500, with Keegan being banned for three games and Bremner eight. Croker also declared that should a team win the Double then they will play the league runners-up in the Charity Shield, an arrangement that continues to this day.

The game is decided on the day with penalty shoot-out if the scores are level, though between 1949 and 1993 the Shield was usually shared if the game was drawn.

With the formation of a new top league, the FA Premier League, the Shield became a match between the Premier League and FA Cup winners from the 1993 competition onwards. In 2002, the competition was renamed the Community Shield; a small scandal surrounding questionable distribution of money raised for charities by the match led to a renaming of the match as part of a reform of the competition. Arsenal were the first winners of the Community Shield with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

The 2006 Community Shield game, where Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-1, was the first not to be contested by either Arsenal or Manchester United since 1995, when Everton beat Blackburn 1-0.

While still an honour in the English game, the Community Shield's status is lower than that of the Premier League, FA Cup or League Cup. It is widely considered to be a minor trophy and Community Shield games may not be as hotly contested as other trophy finals. Also of note is that no winning team in the modern era has opted to hold an end of season open-top bus parade after winning only the Community Shield, despite it being the custom in England after a club has won a trophy. Among followers of football, the Community Shield is often most attractive as a spectacle in that it offers a first glimpse of the newly-signed players for each team. Prior to the 2008 FA Community Shield, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson aptly summarized his opinion for the competition: "It's always a game we never quite use of a do or die thing, we use it as a barometer for fitness".

The FA Community Shield match was usually broadcasted live on Sky Sports with highlights on BBC. However, starting with the 2008/09 Season, the FA Community Shield match was shown live on Setanta Sports 1 with highlights shown on ITV1. In Australia the FA Community Shield is broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia.

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Source : Wikipedia