Beckham, Sterling, Sancho: most expensive British footballers - in pictures

a look at the biggest moves involving UK players

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He was England's captain and arguably the most high-profile player in world football.

David Beckham's move away from Manchester United had been the source of intense speculation for months, but now it was official: the 28-year-old midfielder was joining Real Madrid.

On July 2, 2003, Beckham was unveiled as the La Liga champions' newest signing. He as handed the Real No 23 shirt also worn by club legend Alfredo di Stefano.

Beckham would be joining a squad filled with the world's finest talent – Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul – a “dream” move.

“I have always loved football,” he said. “Of course I love my family. I have a wonderful life, but football is everything to me and joining Real Madrid is a dream come true.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone coming and joining me in my arrival. Gracias - hala Madrid!”

Beckham had become the second most expensive British player of all-time, with only Rio Ferdinand having cost more when the defender moved to Manchester United from West Ham a year earlier.

In the gallery above, we take a look at which UK players have commanded the biggest transfer fee over the years. To move on to the next photo, click on the arrows or if using a mobile device, simply swipe.

All figures have been primarily sourced from

Updated: March 25, 2022, 9:09 AM