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Phil Foden vs David Beckham: Who was better?

From the moment you enter school, football has the power to turn you into a star.

In those teenage days, it was the freedom of the playground and the ability to leave classes early for club commitments. In your youth, you might have a sniff of making it to a real club. If you do it like a professional, you can be your brand.

David Beckham set the trend for footballers to be more than just athletes. Today, Phil Foden hopes to take his talent beyond the pitch.

But who was better/better? It’s a more interesting debate than you might think.

Phil Foden

The way the boy moves / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

We’ll start with a more subjective category, and one with a more specific answer.

The beauty of Beckham and Foden is that although they play the same position, their styles are completely different. They are at different ends of the spectrum but both are special in their own way.

There was no better crosser of the ball than Beckham. No one could match the combination of whip and power, making it look like a passing art instead of a desperate one. Foden’s magic comes in mazing dribbles and 25-yard screamers, which can stand out against a sometimes robotic Manchester City side.

But suppose you were a foreigner.

Bear with us, this is going somewhere.

Say you were an alien who visited Earth and didn’t know what football was. What would you be more impressed with – the guy who uses his right leg like a golf club to hit the ball 50 yards, or the guy who got the ball stuck to his left boot?

It is very, very, very difficult to choose between them. We will go with them Fodenbut he won’t judge you if you think otherwise.

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David Beckham








Phil Foden








A significant asterisk next to Beckham’s numbers is that most of them predate the point at which Opta began collecting reliable data in the mid-2000s, so some figures may be off.

That said, he did a great job of comparing Foden to the fullness of his career as his young team came into City and how football is meant to go forward to build their stats in the modern day.

Foden you get an edge, but it’s always very small.

Landon Donovan, David Beckham

Yes, this counts / Jeff Gross/GettyImages

Wow, we never thought this one would be this close.

Beckham hung up his boots after winning 19 trophies around the world. For Foden, he is currently 18.

It is strong. If you want to be selective, the legitimacy of Foden’s club’s 17 trophies in this discussion may be questionable if City don’t get their act together off the pitch. They are ready for now. You don’t change your underwear, do you?

Diego Simeone, David Beckham

Beckham has been through it all / GERARD CERLES/GettyImages

Although Foden has at least been in some of England’s recent games, he is yet to truly shine at world level. That clash with Wales at the 2022 World Cup was a good start, but he still has a long way to go.

Beckham’s career in England alone was enough to warrant a Hollywood script. From his 1998 World Cup red card to securing entry to the 2002 tournament with a draw against Greece, from captaining the Three Lions to serving as an extension of Fabio Capello’s coaching staff in 2010.

Only Peter Shilton and Wayne Rooney have played more times for England Beckham he did. He didn’t enjoy the team’s greatest success, but he retired as one of the country’s favorite sons for sure.

David Beckham

Coolest / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

There was never a debate.

Beckham dared to defy Sir Alex Ferguson and became England’s first true football player on or off the pitch. His product took him to Real Madrid, transformed football in the US with the LA Galaxy and then headed to AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain on loan as if they were side quests.

Whether he had an armband or not, Beckham he was a captain by choice or by nature. He was he.

Foden’s downside is that neutrals are not as excited by City as Beckham’s teams. His only attempt to top the beauty meter was dying his hair white at Euro 2020, and he was reduced to a largely forgotten narrative of that tournament.

David Beckham

It’s Beckham until it’s not / Ben Radford/GettyImages

The above paragraph was a bit of an oversight and a rant about Beckham from a persona POV, but it’s clear that he was a truly outstanding footballer.

When Manchester United won the treble in 1999, Beckham was the Red Devil’s representative on the Ballon d’Or stage, only to be beaten in the first place by the great Rivaldo. You don’t build a following without the ability to support it.

When all is said and done, Foden has a real chance to walk away from football as one of England’s greatest ever players. His time will come. But for now, he will have to make do with a silver medal in comparison Beckham.

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