As Manchester United announce that David Beckham will play for Real Madrid next season, BBC Sport looks back on the transfer saga that captured the world's attention.
Man Utd confirm they have agreed to sell David Beckham to Real Madrid.
The 28-year-old will join the Spanish giants in a £24.5m four-year deal.
The news, which breaks as Beckham is flying to Japan with his wife Victoria, brings an end to the most high profile transfer in football history.
In a statement, Beckham praises Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson, saying: "I would like to publicly thank Sir Alex Ferguson for making me the player I am today."
Joan Laporta is installed as Barcelona's new president, after basing his campaign on a promise to sign the England captain from Man Utd.
Barcelona vice-president Sandro Rosell says he is "confident" of persuading the England captain to come to the Nou Camp.
But the head of SFX, Beckham's management group, Jon Holmes, suggests otherwise, saying: "Manchester United will not decide where David goes. David will decide what he does."
Real sporting director Jorge Valdano takes the unusual step of indicating where Beckham's best position on the field is. Could this be a sign that a bid is imminent?
AC Milan count themselves out of the race, claiming that there will be no more transfers in or out of the San Siro this summer.
David Beckham says he is being used as a "political pawn" by Laporta in his bid to win the Barcelona presidential election.
The whole situation is further clouded by revelations that both Barcelona and Real Madrid are ready to hijack Man Utd's bid to sign Ronaldinho - the man tipped to replace Beckham at Old Trafford.
Man Utd announce they are ready to accept an offer from Barcelona...
... IF Joan Laporta wins the presidency of the Spanish club...
... and IF personal terms can be agreed.
But Beckham responds by saying "he is very disappointed and surprised to learn of this statement and has no plans to meet Mr Laporta or his representatives."
Man Utd admit that Spanish and Italian clubs have expressed a firm interest in Beckham.
The club release a statement confirming that they are having talks with foreign clubs and that Beckham is being kept informed of events while he is on holiday.
Meanwhile, Barcelona's president-elect Joan Laporta is reported to have offered the England captain a deal worth £154,000 a week to make sure he gets his man.
Barcelona's presidential candidate Joan Laporta claims he has agreed a £23m fee with Man Utd for Beckham.
"We have shown a business plan to Manchester United which they think is very solid," said Laporta.
"They think my campaign team is strong and we are very, very confident about our negotiations."
Man Utd are said to be close to signing Ronaldinho from Paris St Germain for £9m - another possible pointer towards Beckham leaving.
Meanwhile Real Madrid are said to be ready to hijack their great rivals Barcelona in the race to sign the England captain.
Man Utd have confirmed they are in contact with Barcelona about the possible sale of David Beckham.
Old Trafford's chief executive Peter Kenyon met Sandro Rosell, a representative of Barcelona's new president-elect, Joan Laporta, in London on Tuesday.
The two discussed details of a proposed £30m summer bid.
David Beckham's father, Ted, insists the England captain will remain at Manchester United.
"David is staying at Manchester United as long as they want him. He loves the club and doesn't want to go.
Man Utd chief executive Peter Kenyon reveals the club would consider offers in the region of £35m for David Beckham, saying: "I think we would have to look at any offer like that - it would be remiss of us not to."
And England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson joins the debate by suggesting it does not matter to him where Beckham plays his club football, whether it is at Man Utd or Real Madrid.
Spanish newspaper Marca claims David Beckham has booked a place for his son Brooklyn at Runnymede College school, on the outskirts of Madrid.
The school is in the exclusive La Moraleja estate, where several Real Madrid players live.
Real Madrid take the rare step of issuing a statement denying any interest in signing David Beckham.
"Never, never, never. Nobody at Real has ever spoken about Beckham and I don't want to start now," says club president Florentino Perez.
"We are very happy with our current team and will never, ever sign Beckham."
Victoria Beckham drops a broad hint that husband David will quit Man Utd and move abroad.
The former Posh Spice, a guest at a Vogue magazine fashion launch in New York, is asked if she was "intending to move to Italy or Spain".
She replies on GMTV: "I can't possibly answer that..." but then gives an emphatic nod of the head and smiles.
Several newspapers report that Beckham and wife Victoria held a meeting with agent Tony Stephens in a Manchester hotel after the game with Real Madrid.
The United midfielder, furious at being left out of the team, demands a move away from Old Trafford.
Beckham shirts are already on sale at the Real Madrid club shop and photos of Beckham's head have been transposed on team photos.
Real's Steve McManaman says: "Of course, he's a good player and, of course, the club would want him."
Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave Beckham out of the team to play Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final breathes new life into rumours that the England captain could be heading for Madrid in the summer.
He comes off the bench, scoring twice in a 4-3 win but the victory is hollow as United exit the Champions League 6-5 on aggregate.
At the end of the tie Beckham swaps shirts with Real midfielder Zinedine Zidane and applauds to all four corners of Old Trafford.