Former Preston North End Manager Gary Peters has praised David Beckham's ability to take his influence 'beyond football' following the former England Captain's BBC Sports Personality Lifetime Achievement award.
The 35-year-old scooped the prize last weekend in recognition of his dedication to the sport which includes becoming England's most-capped outfield player and winning six Premier League titles and a Champions League crown.
In charge at Deepdale when Beckham arrived on-loan in February 1995, Peters oversaw Beckham's professional league debut at Preston and a further four appearances and two goals before he was whisked back down the M6 to Manchester to rejoin the ranks of Sir Alex Ferguson's now iconic side.
"I always thought that he was going to be a very good player, something special," said Peters who was talking exclusively to www.football-league.co.uk.
"He always came across as a humble lad and that has carried on throughout his career, he's never got carried away with himself. He is still very down to earth.
"There is only George Best that can compete with David in terms of what he is, not just regarding football but being a superstar.
"He was involved in bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to London and tried to bring the World Cup here. He is becoming an ambassador for the country.
"That is not looking at his footballing ability, it is all about his character and the way he wants to help. He sees how he can use his fame to help other people, like going to Afghanistan for example which is tremendous.
"He has gone beyond football."
Having taken over a Preston side on the brink of tumbling out of The Football League, Peters transformed the Lancashire club's fortunes, guiding them to 1994/95 play-off semi-finals and then promotion to Division 2 the following season.
A dead ball specialist from the start, Peters admits that on Beckham's arrival the usual free-kick and corner takers were relieved of their duties - a decision that paid off when the young prodigy scored direct from a corner in his first appearance from the bench against Doncaster Rovers.
And one of those players who lost their set-piece privileges upon Beckham's arrival was Gareth Ainsworth, now at Wycombe Wanderers.
"He was really quiet when he joined, but he had a confidence on the pitch," the Blues skipper told www.wwfc.com. "He took my place at Preston which I suppose is a claim to fame!
"I remember he scored direct from a corner and a free-kick in his first two games. He was a class above, despite only being a young lad. He was awesome to play with.
"He had it from day one. He ate and trained professionally which has helped him achieve what he has in his career.
"I'm delighted for him, he deserves it. He's a fantastic pro, but it's not only what he does on the field that earns him the respect. His work away from football shows what type of guy he is.
"Despite me being roughly the same age as him, I look up to him massively. He's a real credit to the game."
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