The U. K.'s square-jawed, chiseled-bodied archetype of both sporting achievement and rugged glamour, David Beckham became the most celebrated and desired British athlete of his generation. A prodigy at his sport from an early age, Beckham fulfilled a childhood dream by joining the youth squad of Manchester United as a teenager and becoming an ace midfielder before the age of 20. His fairy tale ramped up upon meeting pop diva, Victoria Adams, member of the then-popular act the Spice Girls, whom he would eventually marry in lavish splendor. Though once reviled for costing the English national team its match against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup, Beckham's continued excellence at his sport kept his star ascendant through the early 2000s, weathering infidelity scandals, intra-team controversy and the eventual jump to European rival club Real Madrid. Beckham set records for pay, from the $22 million contract given him by Manchester United in 2003 to the later aggregate $250 million five-year contract that lured him across the Atlantic to the Los Angeles Galaxy. The move proved more of a Hollywood media event than a sports milestone, and Beckham's U.S. career was marred by injury and increasing skepticism as to his dedication to the game versus the perquisites of celebrity. Routinely selected in lists of the most attractive people in the world, Beckham achieved an iconic status that transcended his sport, so much so that British citizens once voted him over Winston Churchill as a prospective next face to grace the country's currency. Upon his retirement from soccer in 2013, Beckham announced that rather than his status as a pop culture icon, he wished to be remembered for his career as a "hardworking footballer."