For all the celebrity and fortune he enjoys, David Beckham epitomises football's greatest values and is why he deserves to be awarded the Golden Foot for 2011.
This year's nominees for the career achievement trophy have been released, with some of the game's modern day greats among the names under consideration:
David Beckham (LA Galaxy, England), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, Italy), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Spain), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan, Cameroon), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United, Wales), Carles Puyol (Barcelona, Spain), Raúl González Blanco (Real Madrid, Spain), Xavi Hernández (Barcelona, Spain), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan, Argentina).
All would be commendable winners and deserve their immortality in the 'Champions Promenade' on Monaco's 'Walk of Fame'. But at this time, and at this stage in his career, Beckham stands out as the most worthy.
The Los Angeles Galaxy star has reached the very pinnacle of his sport not through natural gifts, but from sheer hard work and endeavour.
Instead, Beckham has built his career on his famous free-kick taking, his wonderful range of passing and his gut-busting stamina - all honed hour-after-hour, day-after-day on the training pitches of Manchester United's Carrington complex.
His career has been a triumph of determination over adversity.
The highs and lows with England are well documented. His dismissal against Argentina in France 98 made Beckham a national pariah, but he never hid upon his return to Manchester United the following season. Indeed, he put to bed that infamous episode with Diego Simeone by dumping Argentina out of the World Cup four years later - and his free-kick against Greece to reach the Far East tournament is now the stuff of legend. Later dumped by Steve McClaren, only to be recalled, Beckham would have played in last year's World Cup if not for injury.
At United he was part of the iconic Treble team - but for me, his greatest triumph was the Liga title won in his final season at Real Madrid. Shunned by Fabio Capello, told to train with the kids at the Castilla, Beckham never dropped his head or threw a strop.
Instead, he kept his professionalism. He kept fighting. And not only - through sheer force of will - broke back into the Real first team, but inspired his teammates to an amazing championship victory.
Again, from being a pariah - through no deliberate act of his own - Beckham was a hero and such was the emotion he generated from Real fans, the board made every attempt to buy him back from LA Galaxy in 2007.
Even his time at AC Milan was typical Beckham. The cynics in the Italian press met the announcement that Beckham was moving to Milan mockingly, we had whispers from inside the squad also questioning the deal. But within days of joining his new teammates, he had wowed the medical staff with his fitness and won over the players with his ability.
Like with Real, such was Beckham's impact, Milan attempted to buy him from LA Galaxy. The Americans refused to do business, but Milan still moved heaven and earth to make sure he returned for a similar spell the following season.
That's Beckham. In terms of his football, nothing has ever been handed to him. Even going right back to 1993 and England's U21 European Championship victory, Beckham was overlooked for the likes of Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, Nicky Butt and Robbie Fowler.
Instead of sulking, he hit the training pitch, worked harder than ever before - and it's that value of achievement through sheer hard work and dedication which makes football the greatest sport in the world - and why David Beckham deserves to be the 2011 Golden Foot winner.
Andrew Slevison says:
"I think Beckham is the best candidate this year. Yes, he maybe playing at the lowest level of all the nominees but what he has done for the sport in England, Spain and the USA, let alone around the world is phenomenal. His name is the most recognised in world sport and he continues to defy his 36 years with consistent performances for the Galaxy. Sure, you have some big names in this list, including Beckham's old teammate Ryan Giggs, who may have been a runaway winner a few months back if it wasn't for recent events, but I feel that the former England captain provides the best balance for being a superstar of the world game and remaining humble despite all of his exploits. It would be great to see Beckham win this award and I believe he should be added to the already star-studded list of Totti, Ronaldinho, Baggio, Del Piero and Robert Carlos among others."
Ian Ferris says:
"Chelsea and Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba is deserving of the Golden Foot 2011 career award for being more than just a footballer. The 33 year old has broken records throughout his career. His physical strength, power in the air and ability to intimidate opponents has seen him become his countries all time top scorer and is placed sixth in Chelsea’s goalscoring pantheon. Drogba was voted African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and twice been awarded the Golden Boot. The striker is still remembered with affection, which is reciprocated, at the club where he made his name, Marseille. But it his off-field actions which make the Ivorian stand out from the other candidates. After the Ivory Coast qualified for the 2006 World Cup Drogba played his part in bringing to an end five years of civil war in his homeland and has already suggested that once retired his time will be spent rebuilding his torn country. Even his passion, which at times has led to clashes with authority both on and off the pitch, is now being channelled towards using his footballing celebrity for good."