Beckham’s final 81st minute
By Gonzalo Fuentes
Since David Beckham arrived in Paris the media have captured every move, every training session, every single time he and his family have roamed around the city.
The infrastructure of the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) stadium was upgraded to handle all the media that he attracts. The media in Paris was ready to follow all his actions as evidenced when 150 journalists were accredited to cover the presentation of his PSG jersey.
While covering his first match, I was able to capture an emblematic picture that I was hoping to shoot. Beckham ran and embraced Swedish team mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic to celebrate scoring, providing me with an image of a true team player. As the French tournament continued, Beckham did what he does best, which was to spread himself among the team, while becoming one of the key leaders.
For the last home match of the season, I arrived at the stadium in advance to install my equipment. The night announced itself as a long one. It was pouring rain and Paris Saint-Germain was already the winner of the French League. This could have been the most irrelevant match if it was not for the fact that this night was to be the last soccer match of one of the most defining figures in soccer.
As in previous games, Beckham gave himself to the match and did everything to be a key player on the pitch. Thanks to him his team was able to score. However, there was something different this time. You could see his desperation to score, a need to shine, and an attempt to make those final minutes on the pitch last as long as possible.
As the clock ticked, Beckham started to become overwhelmed as the time for him to leave the pitch neared. He started to restrain his emotions but they were getting stronger. Then I saw it. I saw a player that couldn’t help himself as he counted down the last moments of his time on the pitch. He couldn’t avoid looking at the bench that was waiting for him; as he played for the last time as a professional.
The moment was intense and I became oblivious to all the noise and events of the match. I could only feel the silence that happens before you lose your strength and sadness invades your body. Then, it just happened, Beckham stopped running, started scratching his hair, and broke down in tears as he awaited the moment for his replacement to enter the pitch right at the 81st minute.