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Aisling O'Connor: It's game over for Beckham on pitch but fashion career is just taking off

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A tearful David Beckham applauds the fans after his final game for Paris Saint-Germain

A tearful David Beckham applauds the fans after his final game for Paris Saint-Germain

A tearful David Beckham applauds the fans after his final game for Paris Saint-Germain

FOR many sports fans, David Beckham's retirement from football is the end of an era. But to the fashion industry and a slew of lifestyle brands, he's only just begun.

Global heartstrings were collectively pulled by the weeping former England captain on what would be his last professional football appearance for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday – a perfect example of his ability to elicit powerful emotions in people.

Whether it's a wink, a smile, a trot around LA in his underpants, a Lakers courtside private joke with son Brooklyn, or a stoic trot through an airport with baby Harper on his arm, Beckham is this generation's ultimate heartthrob – and boy can he sell shirts.

So the question on everyone's lips is what is David's next move? Though he has an option to purchase an expansion franchise team in US Major League Soccer, and he certainly has the financial backing, the career that would appear to be the surest thing is fashion.

Beckham's representatives have spoken to fashion bible 'Women's Wear Daily' about his future in the rag trade: "Over the next year, we will see his business grow and expand. The sky is the limit really, in terms of what he can do globally. Just look at what Victoria has done."

And 'Sky' is certainly not the limit. In addition to being locked into a five-year deal as a face of the TV network, Golden Balls has endorsements with Pepsi, Police sunglasses, and Adidas to name but a few.

And fear not, his tattooed physique is confirmed to promote yet another H&M loungewear collection this autumn.

It's not just style magazines 'Grazia', 'Vogue', 'Esquire' and 'GQ' that see Beckham taking on a bigger role in the fashion industry.

Recently retired Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has weighed in on Becks' future with the seemingly not-bitchy musing: "He is a young man, fashion will be his role I would imagine but he will have plenty to do."

These are not unlike the words of Chanel Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld, who described Victoria Beckham not as a fashion designer, but someone who "makes a career in fashion".

And make a career in fashion the Beckhams have. From the early days of celebrity box-standard merchandise – jeans, sunglasses and fragrances – Victoria has maintained a high and glamorous profile for the entire family, whilst keeping their heads down.

The essence of the Beckham brand is not necessarily looks but desirability. People want to have what the Beckhams have, eat where they eat, drive what they drive, look how they look. Victoria copped on to this quick-smart and has gone from celebrity endorser to fully fledged fashion and lifestyle icon.

There is huge potential for David to become a designer in the sense of a label that carries his name and sculpts a Beckham-esque "man" as Giorgio Armani has done. If he does venture into Victoria-chartered territory, he certainly has options.

Though he will undoubtedly continue to collaborate with other brands, David's retirement is the perfect jump-off point for a foray into luxury menswear – which would sell like hot-cakes if his transfer-fee history is anything to go by. The most likely venture in design would be a menswear line under Victoria's commercial mantle. "David by Victoria Beckham" does have a certain ring to it.

Victoria is clearly the brains behind the operation. Just look at what she has achieved since focusing solely on the brand (not that her singing and dancing career compares to his legacy as a sportsman).

David is now free to, in the words of the 'Refinery 29' blog "devote his efforts to being hot, full-time".

In splitting his attention between sport and endorsement work, one could argue that Beckham's commercial potential has barely been tapped.

So whether he continues to be chiefly a muse, or goes on to be a fully-formed mogul, has yet to be revealed by Camp Beckham.

Perhaps raw design talent does reside in the iconic athlete's psyche. Maybe he is not just tattoos, hair-dos, abs, boxer shorts, tracksuit bottoms and trainers. At the end of the day, if he follows his wife into fashion design, will anyone really care whether it is Victoria, David or neither of them holding the colouring pencils?

Irish Independent