David Beckham: I never wanted to leave Old Trafford
Beckham was one of the star graduates from the United youth academy, winning six league titles and the Champions League, but cut his ties with the club in 2003 when reports of a falling-out with Sir Alex Ferguson preceded a £25 million move to Real Madrid.
Having returned to AC Milan on loan from LA Galaxy in January, Beckham will soon experience a return to his former club when the Italian side visit Old Trafford in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on March 10.
It promises to be an emotional occasion for Beckham, who has revealed he never wanted to leave the club that turned him into the most recognisable sportsman on the planet.
"I'd have loved to have stayed at Manchester United for my whole career and never gone anywhere else but it just wasn't meant to be," Beckham told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.
"It takes a special person and a player to stay at a club for so many years. Ryan's been there for so many years now and he'll be part of Manchester United for life - he's a Manchester boy and it runs through his blood.
"I'm so honoured to have played with Ryan through the years I did and to know him as a person and a player. He deserves all the success he's had this year and in the other years."
Despite turning 35 in May, Beckham remains a prominent member of the England squad and Fabio Capello recently stated that the midfielder will almost certainly travel to the World Cup finals if he can maintain his fitness and impress at AC Milan.
Beckham is refusing to take his place in the squad for granted though and is determined to once again prove a useful signing as his second loan spell in Italy begins in earnest.
"I've never expected anything," Beckham said. "I know I have to play quite a lot for AC Milan. I'm prepared to do that. Everybody knows I'm prepared to work hard to be part of the England squad.
"I've always been very positive and I've always said I want to be available for England whether I'm in the team or not. I'm passionate about playing for my country and I always want to be a part of the England squad."