David Beckham wins outstanding contribution to British Sport
David Beckham has been named as the winner of the Virgin Atlantic Outstanding Contribution to British Sport award at the Sport Industry Awards 2007.
The former England football captain was in attendance to receive his award from fellow football icon Thierry Henry and London 2012 chairman Lord Coe on Thursday evening at a star-studded awards ceremony at Old Billingsgate in central London.
On the verge of a multi-million pound transfer to US soccer team LA Galaxy this summer, the award was due recognition of the legacy Beckham has created for UK sport through his outstanding performances on the pitch and his ambassadorial role of it – all of which contribute to his status as the most prominent sport export this country has ever produced.
Beckham becomes the first individual to take home the Outstanding Contribution to British Sport award with previous winners including London 2012 (2006); the gold medal-winning exploits of the British Olympic movement (2005), England Rugby (2004), and Manchester City Council’s work in staging the Commonwealth Games (2003).
The tributes for Beckham’s achievements and his contribution to UK sport flowed in led by the Rt. Hon British Prime Minister Tony Blair:
“In a world where celebrity comes too easily, David deserves his fame. The phenomenal interest in his move to the United States is a reflection not just of his talent but also of his understanding of the importance of sport as an industry – creating wealth, jobs and driving passion around the world.
“He’s been a huge cultural icon for our country but most of all he plays football brilliantly and whenever he wore the England shirt, he wore it with pride.”
There were also words of praise from Beckham’s former manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson:
“I think it's a wonderful achievement and well deserved. David’s been a great credit to football since he was a boy, when he came to Manchester United at 12 years of age. I always remember the little elfin face, 5 feet nothing and then he grew into a fantastic footballer. He is a credit to the game and credit to Manchester United, so all I can say on behalf of everyone at Manchester United is well done, congratulations.”
Beckham’s impact on the profile of UK sport mark him out as a worthy winner of the Virgin Atlantic Outstanding Contribution to British Sport award, according to Marcel Knobil, Chairperson of Creative & Commercial; Founder of Superbrands; and a member of the Sport Industry Awards 2007 main judging panel.
“David Beckham is far more than a football player he has become a brand ambassador for football itself. He has attracted new audiences to the sport both in terms of geography and gender. Numerous females, Asians and Americans are now connecting with football thanks to Beckham.
“It is no surprise that the Americans feel that brand Beckham will regenerate soccer in the United States. Where ever he is present, whether it be Manchester United or Real Madrid, an industry is built around the icon.”