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First Ferguson surprised everyone by announcing his retirement at age 71. His midfielder Paul Scholes, Beckham’s teammate from his United days, is joining him. Now Beckham is bowing out, too.

All leave as champions, the best way to go.

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester