What they’re saying about Beckham’s retirement…

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So, it is official.

The lingering suspicions many have had were confirmed on Thursday morning, as the 38-year-old midfielder announced he would finish his career at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the current season.

David Beckham is the most capped outfield player for the English national team, with 115 appearances. He also became the first Englishman to win domestic titles in four different countries.

He has become one of the greatest names in world soccer and is a global icon for millions around the world. His every move has been watched by the soccer community, after he came through the ranks at Manchester United as a youngster and moved to Real Madrid and the LA Galaxy, with stops at AC Milan and PSG on the way.

PHOTOS: The life and times of David Beckham

His legacy will remain long after his playing days, with Beckham said to be keen on a managerial role in the game. We wait with bated breathe.

Here is a video reminder of just how good he was during his time in Major League Soccer…

England manager Roy Hodgson: “He’s had a glittering career, iconic status, and I wish him well in the future. A lot of people now will be offering him jobs which could take him away from football, but I’m hoping we can keep him. It’s been a strange week for me seeing Rio Ferdinand retire, and not so long back John Terry, and now David Beckham, it does seem like the end of an era.”

Close friend and former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville: “He played in the greatest midfield that I ever played with. David was different – he was a crosser of the ball, a passer of the ball, he was a joy to play with. At the time I played with him, he was someone who worked extremely hard in a fantastic team. He has probably been the most influential player out of England in transforming football. The impact he has had is enormous.”

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson: “A fantastic football player, a fantastic man, probably the biggest sports personality in the world. If you talk about David Beckham, all over the world they know who that it is. I don’t think there is any other football player more popular than him.

LA Galaxy manager David Beckham: “It is not a sad day, it is a great day. We are now able to celebrate such a great career. David is such a great player, a great personality, a great friend and a great family man. We in the United States in Major League Soccer and specifically with the LA Galaxy were honored to have David here for six years. He is a person we can’t replace on the field at all. He really has meant a lot to the professional game in United States.”

Former England manager Steve McLaren: “He was a great player. He made the very most of his talents through sheer hard work and professionalism and always doing extra work on the training field. He inspired his team-mates through his performances. He was a winner, he’s won so many things in his career, and that was infectious on his team-mates.”

Former England striker Gary Lineker: “David Beckham has retired. A wonderful player, global superstar and a magnificent ambassador for England and football.”

Former Manchester United and England defender Phil Neville: “David Beckham – what an unbelievable career. Four titles in four countries, over 100 caps for England and the best ambassador this country has had!”

Ex-Manchester United winger Lee Sharpe: “David Beckham’s had a remarkable career. Whatever he goes on to do now he will be huge – he’s an unbelievable bloke.”

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”