David Beckham was born in Leytonstone to parents Ted, a kitchen fitter, and Sandra, a hairdresser.
Beckham's parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who frequently travelled to Old Trafford from London to attend the club's home matches, so he naturally inherited their love of the team and chose football as his main sporting passion.
His love of football meant that his schooling took second place. In 1991, aged 16, he left school and signed up to Manchester United's youth training scheme after his talent for the game had become evident. He had initially been on trial at Tottenham.
Beckham scored in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final against Crystal Palace in 1992 and was part of a talented group of young players that included the likes of Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers. Fresh from collecting his first piece of silverware with the youth team, Beckham made his first appearance for United's senior side that year, as a substitute in a League Cup match against Brighton. He signed his first professional contract shortly afterwards.
United reached the final of the Youth Cup again the following year, with Beckham playing in the defeat to Leeds United.
During the 1994–95 season, Sir Alex Ferguson sent Beckham on loan to Preston North End for some first-team experience. It wasn't until 2 April 1995 that he made his first Premier League appearance for Manchester United in a goalless draw against Leeds United.
Ferguson had a great deal of confidence in the club's young players. When three of his first-team players left the club at the end of the 1994-95 season, his decision to let youth team players replace them instead of buying players from other clubs drew a great deal of criticism in the media.
Beckham became a regular in the first team and helped them to win the Premiership and FA Cup double, scoring the winning goal in the semi-final against Chelsea and also taking the corner that Eric Cantona scored from in the FA Cup Final.
England manager Glenn Hoddle took a chance on Beckham by including him in the starting line up for a match against Moldova in September 1996. It was Beckham's England debut and the team went on to win the game 3-0.
United started the 1997-98 season well, yet their performance deteriorated when several players got injured and they subsequently finished the season in second place, behind Arsenal. Beckham had played in all of England's qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and was part of the England squad that travelled to France for the showpiece event. However, Hoddle publicly accused Beckham of not concentrating on the tournament and omitted him from the first two matches.
Beckham was picked for their third match against Colombia and scored in a 2–0 victory, which was his first goal for England. In the second round of the tournament, Beckham received a red card in the match against Argentina. The match finished in a draw and England were eliminated in a penalty shootout. Many supporters and journalists blamed Beckham for England's elimination and he became the target of criticism and abuse, including the hanging of an effigy outside a London pub and death threats.
In that same year, Beckham started dating Victoria Adams, better know as Posh Spice from The Spice Girls, and the couple were soon dubbed "Posh and Becks" by the media, which has since stuck.
In the 1998-99 season, United enjoyed a tremendously successful year when they won the 'treble' of league, FA Cup and Champions League - a unique feat in English football. Beckham was pivotal in United's FA Cup final win over Newcastle United and for the 1999 Uefa Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, which led to him finishing as runner up to Rivaldo at the European Footballer of the Year and Fifa World Player of the Year awards in 1999.
Despite his achievements that year, he remained unpopular among some opposition fans and journalists, and was criticised after being sent off for a questionable challenge in Manchester United's World Club Championship match against Necaxa. It was suggested in the press that 'Posh' was a bad influence on him (they married at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on 4 July 1999, four months after the birth of their first son, Brooklyn). However, Sir Alex Ferguson publicly backed Beckham and he remained at the club.
The relationship between Ferguson and Beckham soon began to deteriorate though. In 2000, Beckham was given permission to miss training to look after his son Brooklyn, who was ill with gastroenteritis. Ferguson was livid, however, when Victoria Beckham was photographed at a London Fashion Week event on the same night and claimed that Beckham would have been able to train if Victoria had looked after Brooklyn instead. Ferguson responded by fining Beckham the maximum amount that was permitted (two weeks' wages - which was £50,000 at that time) and dropped him for a crucial match against Leeds United.
The tension between the two culminated in a dressing room bust up that saw the manager kick a football boot at Beckham, resulting in a cut on his face. Rather than playing the incident down, the ever media hungry Beckham walked the streets of Manchester the next day showing off the stitches above his eye.
On 15 November 2000, following Kevin Keegan's resignation as England manager, Beckham was made captain. He responded by helping England to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals, following a number of impressive performances that included a famous 5–1 victory over Germany in Munich.
Beckham's relationship with Alex Ferguson had completely deteriorated by the end of the 2002 season though and in 2003, Beckham agreed a four-year contract with Real Madrid. Manchester United accepted a fee of £24.5m for the England captain.
Beckham's Spanish career got off to the perfect start when he scored on his debut during Real's Spanish Super Cup win against Real Mallorca. Sadly, his first season at the club was tainted by claims that he'd had an affair with his former personal assistant, Rebecca Loos. Beckham denied the allegations but the usual tabloid frenzy ensued.
The Beckhams made it through the press intrusion though and managed to establish a happy life in Madrid with their third son Cruz being born on 20 February 2005 in the Spanish capital. (Their second son, Romeo, was born 1 September 2002.)
At the start of the 2006-2007 season, Beckham was reduced to a bit-part role under new coach Fabio Capello and he subsequently stalled on contract renewal talks. On 11 January, Beckham announced he had signed a five-year deal with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy worth $250 million.
Capello responded by saying the midfielder would not play for Real again and Beckham spent the next month watching the team playing from the sidelines. "He (Beckham) has always been a great professional, but a player who has such an important contract with another club, we cannot count on him. He is not going to play any more," Capello commented.
However, Beckham continued to train hard and eventually regained his place for Real and England. Indeed, his Real Madrid career finished in glory as the team pipped Barcelona for the Spanish league title. This ended the team's four-year trophy drought and was a suitably happy ending for Beckham in Spain.
The 32-year-old was delighted his family could experience the occasion at the Bernabeu. He added: "It's amazing to have my family here. They have been with me for four years in Spain and they've been through the ups and downs - and they've felt the euphoria tonight. It meant the world to have everyone that supported me throughout my career - my whole family, my wife, my mum and dad, my sister and children. It's incredible."
The move to Hollywood saw Posh and Becks enter the celebrity A-List. Indeed, Beckham cites an hour-and-a-half long telephone conversation with Tom Cruise as having a huge influence on his decision to join LA Galaxy.
Beckham was officially unveiled as a Galaxy player at the Home Depot Center in July 2007 in an event that was watched by more than 5,000 fans and covered by 700 accredited members of the media. Even before he appeared on the pitch, the publicity surrounding his move to the US resulted in Galaxy jersey sales soaring. He made his debut for LA Galaxy later that month, coming on as a substitute in the 78th minute of a friendly match with Chelsea, which was won by the English football club.
Despite his move to the US, where he achieved mixed results for LA Galaxy, Beckham was still keen to appear for England and joined Milan on loan in January 2009 in order to keep this hope alive. During this period Beckham revealed a desire for a permanent move to Milan, but Galaxy's valuation of Beckham proved too much for the Serie A club. This displeased LA Galaxy fans and they made their feelings known upon his return to the club. He went on to have a second stint at Milan only to return to the US.
In March 2010, Beckham's dreams of playing for England were ruined when a ruptured Achilles tendon ruled him out of selection for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. However, manager Fabio Capello allowed him to go to the tournament as part of the England back-room staff.
After England's dismal performance at the event, Beckham went on to represent the nation in a slightly different capacity when he helped campaign for the 2018 World Cup hosting bid. Russia was chosen to host the tournament.
Further proof of his importance to the game came in December 2010 when the BBC honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show.
It was an emotional event for both Beckham and his family, and less than a month later David and Victoria were back in the headlines again as the couple announced that they are expecting a much longed-for fourth child.
Announcing the news on his Facebook page, David said: "The boys are very excited about the arrival of their new brother or sister."
As well as a new family member, Beckham also announced in the same week that he will return to the United Kingdom to train with north London team Tottenham Hotspur. He is scheduled to train with the squad until February when he will return to the US to play for LA Galaxy.
It is unclear at the moment as to whether or not the football icon will sign a contract with the team, but speculation is rife and he is once again the centre of media attention across the globe.