PARIS: David Beckham bade a tearful farewell to Paris on Saturday as the former England star made his final home appearance for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain before heading into retirement.
Last week, Beckham, 38, had helped PSG to their first league title since 1994 with a win over Lyon, and then announced he would retire at the end of the season having captured a championship in a fourth different league after England, Spain and the United States.
“Thanks to everyone in Paris, to all of my teammates, the staff and fans,” said Beckham, who was in floods of tears when he was substituted 10 minutes from the end of the 3-1 victory over relegated Brest.
“It’s been very special to finish my career here.”
Beckham was made captain for the night for his farewell performance by coach Carlo Ancelotti.
When he left the pitch, he was warmly embraced by all of his teammates while the crowd accorded him a standing ovation.
When he reappeared for the presentation of the Ligue 1 trophy, he was draped in an English flag as a giant video screen paid a tribute which concluded with the words, ‘Thank you, David’.
“I now want to enjoy time with my family. I have all the memories I need.
“Paris has always been one of the world’s most beautiful places for me. I am very sad to be leaving.”
Appropriately, ‘Spice Boy’ Beckham was serenaded by the Beatles’ hit ‘Hello, Goodbye’ as a spectacular laser show pierced the Parc des Princes night.
On the pitch, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice.
Beckham had a hand in the other PSG goal, his corner finding Blaise Matuidi as the former Manchester United star signed off with an assist while Charlison Benschop replied for Brest.
When Ancelotti withdrew him with 10 minutes remaining, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and LA Galaxy star, watched by wife Victoria and his parents, was in tears.
Beckham may only have made barely a dozen appearances for PSG since joining on loan in January, yet his presence has spurred the club on, as well as giving the French game a huge shot in the arm in terms of publicity.
Elsewhere on Saturday, the kind of publicity the French game does not need again surfaced just a week after celebrations marking PSG’s title success degenerated into violence which forced the cancellation of a gala dinner in the capital.
This time it was Lyon and Marseille fans who clashed in disturbances which left 16 people injured.
Lyon decried the troublemakers after “serious incidents” during the afternoon before Marseille’s game in nearby Saint Etienne.
Lyon indicated on their official website that the club would seek to take legal action “in view of the seriousness of what has happened and the injuries.”
The club added it appeared that supporters had clashed after hardcore fans of the club made their way back home after their match with Nice was postponed because of bad weather.
The Paris violence a week earlier saw group of troublemakers fight running battles with police in disturbances which left several people injured and 47 people arrested.
On the field, Marseille, already guaranteed runners-up spot, had nothing to celebrate either as they lost 2-0 at Saint Etienne which left the latter in fourth spot, a point behind Lyon, after a winless run of three games.
With their extra game at Nice still in hand, Lyon will still expect to hold onto third place and thereby clinch a Champions League qualifying round berth.
Saint Etienne, who saw off Marseille with first-half goals from Loic Perrin and Brandao, are guaranteed a Europa League berth at worst having lifted the League Cup.
Elsewhere, Nancy are relegated after going down 2-1 at home to Bastia while Troyes are still alive after beating Bordeaux 1-0 meaning they can still just catch Sochaux and Ajaccio although their poor goal difference means they will unlikely overhaul Evian, also three points clear with one round of games remaining.