May has been a month for change in world football, and though the Champions League may be stealing most of the international headlines, it’s the departure of one superstar and the slowing down of another that may be the month’s most interesting news. Indeed, with David Beckham’s announcement that he will retire as soon as his season with PSG is over, and with Landon Donovan’s recent break from the game and following omission from the U.S. national team roster, it appears that two faces we’ve all grown used to seeing may soon both be fading away. Here’s a bit on each player.
Not much needs to be said about Beckham that hasn’t already been said. Suffice it to say, there was a time in Europe when, if Beckham was playing in driving range, it was time to put fuel in the car, double check your Aviva insurance, grab a road map and drive to the match. That’s just how much of a draw he was in his prime.
Inarguably the face of British soccer for the better part of a decade, Beckham was known not just for his mighty shots and pinpoint crosses, but also for his celebrity off the field. In fact, one can argue that Beckham achieved a higher celebrity status than any footballer in the modern era, largely thanks to his transfer to the media mecca that is Los Angeles. Now announcing his impending retirement, Beckham sounds like a star at peace. He’s been out of the spotlight for some time now, but for fans of the beautiful game, Beckham’s official departure leaves a gap.
Donovan has not announced his retirement, and his inclusion in this article may be a bit dramatic. However, there is certainly reason to wonder if the face of U.S. soccer may finally be approaching the end of his career. To begin with, Donovan recently returned from a self-imposed, 144 day absence from professional soccer, which appears to have been used primarily as a time for personal reflection and soul-searching. Throw in the fact that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann promptly left Donovan off of the national team roster for World Cup qualifiers, and one has to wonder just how much longer this stalwart star will hang around.
There’s no question that Donovan can still get it done – as evidenced by his statement game in his comeback for the L.A. Galaxy – but he’s not getting younger, and the U.S. talent pool, while limited, may finally be pushing him out. Donovan never impacted the world of football in the way that Beckham did, but as the undisputed face of the U.S. football program, he will be missed if and when he does call it quits.