David Beckham the Tiger Woods of Soccer, or Is It Vice Versa?
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Maybe because when you think soccer, you think David Beckham.
And when you think golf, you think Tiger Woods.
However, it's not just in the sporting sense that Woods and Beckham compare. They have both succeeded and suffered in their careers very similarly.
Woods was rising as the best golfer in the world, winning his first Masters Tournament in 1997 and PGA Championship in 1999.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Beckham helped Manchester United become the first team to ever win the coveted treble—winning the English Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League—during the 1998-99 season.
And from that success came the usual: money, fame, endorsements, notoriety. Both Woods and Beckham rode their success to levels not seen by many before.
Around the same time, Woods was raking in the dough from his PGA Championships. He started the new millennium collecting just over $9 million in PGA prize money. Since then Woods has collected over $10 million in PGA prize money three different times—2005, 2007 and 2009.
Four years later, after Beckham's contract was up in Spain in 2007, he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy for a five-year $35 million contract.
Even with the success both Woods and Beckham have been able to create, everyone falls from the top at some point, and it was the same for these two celebrity athletes.
Beckham's biggest downfall was during the 1998 World Cup playing for England. He was red-carded and ejected in the second-round match versus Argentina, which England eventually lost in a penalty-kick shootout. Fans and media alike blamed Beckham for the loss, which led to harsh criticism and death threats.
However, the Englishman's redemption came several years later in the last game of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers against Greece. Beckham's signature free kick in the waning moments of the match helped England seal the single point needed to qualify outright to the 2002 World Cup.
Woods' fall from grace was far more turbulent, all stemming from a reported accident during the Thanksgiving weekend of 2009. His incident opened the door to reveal Woods' infidelity to his wife, Elin, in a string of affairs linking up to a dozen women.
Woods was severely bashed for his infidelities. He lost several endorsement deals, including Gatorade. Eventually the scandal forced Woods to remove himself from golf and the public eye for some time. Not even Beckham's nanny scandal while playing in Spain was as bad as what Woods went through in the U.S.
Unlike Beckham, Woods hasn't had an iconic, ceremonious return to the hearts of fans. The golfer returned to the game in April of 2010, placing fourth in the 2010 Masters Tournament, and has slipped down the world rankings since, going down to the mid-50s but rising again to No. 25.
After winning the 2011 MLS Cup, Beckham recently signed a two-year $15 million extension with the LA Galaxy. Meanwhile, Woods will be competing at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which comes with a guaranteed appearance fee of $1.5 million.
Of course, it is endorsements and ad revenue that make these two hot commodities, and Woods and Beckham take advantage of it better than anyone.
Watch company Rolex locked Woods into a multi-year contract as an ambassador late in 2011 – it was the first major deal since his fiasco. Beckham is also reaping the rewards of being a soccer icon, working a deal with Armani for its underwear line.
As you can see, about 15 or so years after starting their pro careers, Tiger Woods and David Beckham still follow a similar path. Both are trying to maintain the success, wealth and fame after they made their names not just recognizable in the golf and soccer world, but instead a worldwide brand.
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