David Beckham's retirement has been described as "loss to the game" by David Bernstein, the FA chairman, while the former England manager, Steve McClaren, who dropped then reinstated the midfielder, described him as a great footballer.
Bernstein said: "In the week following Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, which came as a bit of a shock, now we have the iconic David Beckham coming out of the game. It's unexpected, even though he is getting to mature years for a footballer. He is an iconic figure in the game and produced wonderful performances for his clubs, particularly Manchester United. When you look at his playing and work for England, no one would ever accuse him of being unpatriotic and not giving everything for his country.
"He is a real loss to the game and I am sure the FA will want to embrace him and to get him closely associated with the organisation. I would personally wish him every luck and success – he will be quite a loss to the game."
Beckham, who won 115 caps, had stepped down as England captain following the 2006 World Cup and was then dropped from the squad by McClaren ahead of England's friendly with Greece that August, his first game in charge.
McClaren then recalled him in May 2007 and he told Sky Sports News: "I've been very fortunate to work with some great players and he was one of them. He was a great player, he made the very most of his talents and that was through sheer hard work, professionalism, always doing extra on the training field. He inspired his team-mates through his performances, he was a winner. He was a leader, people followed him."
Beckham's former Manchester United team-mate and best man at his wedding, Gary Neville, said: "He just feels it's the right time."
"He just feels he's taken it as far as he can. He wanted to come back home, he's been away for 22 years and he's got to the end of the road.
"He's won another championship at PSG, that's four in four countries, and he just wants to come home."
Neville also paid tribute Beckham's ability on the field. "He played in the greatest midfield I've ever played with: David, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. David was a crosser of the ball, a passer of the ball. He had incredible stamina and energy. He was a joy to play with.
"And when you think back on the way football has changed over the last 22 years, he has probably been the most influential player in that time out of England in terms of transforming football.
"In leaving the country, to Milan, LA, Paris, he has transported England around the world and that's something he was aware of and wanted to do.
"Every clothing garment he wore, every hairstyle, was followed – not just in football, but out of football. That's why you see him working as an ambassador for the Olympics."
Manchester United tweeted: "Good luck with your retirement, David Beckham. Thanks for the memories".
Eric Harrison, United's former youth team coach, remembered bringing him through the ranks: "He first came to the club to visit us when he was 12 – all this business about people saying, 'I've just seen a youth footballer, 12 or 13 he's going to be a world-class player' – that's the biggest load of rubbish ever.
"The only way you find out is when they're integrated into your team like he was into the youth team. And then you see him on a regular basis in training, Monday to Friday, morning to afternoon and then you find out whether you think he's going to be a top-class player. And then Sir Alex Ferguson and myself knew.
"In my eyes and in most he's David Beckham, footballer, not a global icon. People say he's the most famous footballer on the planet but I don't think that."
The England manager, Roy Hodgson, said: "I wish him well in the future, whatever he chooses to do and I personally hope that will be in football. David is a man of many talents and a lot of people now will be wanting him for different jobs and roles, some of which could take him away from us in football.
"But I'm rather hoping we'll be able to keep him in football because we can really benefit from his experience, we can really benefit from his charisma and we certainly benefit from the magnificent past he has had as a football player. In David Beckham, England have a very big fan and a very great supporter."
Milan, who signed Beckham twice on loan during the Major League Soccer off-season, said: "His arrival at the club may have been greeted with some scepticism but his performances as a player quickly won over the non-believers.
"Thank you and good luck from all the fans and everyone at the club to David Beckham."
Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose tenure as England manager between 2001 and 2006 coincided with some of Beckham's best years, told BBC Radio Five Live: "He is a fantastic footballer and a fantastic person. All over the world you say 'David Beckham' and people know who that is. I don't think any other football player is more popular than he."
Meanwhile, a Downing Street spokesman gave Prime Minister David Cameron's verdict.
"The Prime Minister's view is that David Beckham has been an outstanding footballer throughout his career, but not only that, he has been a brilliant ambassador for this country, not least if we remember all the work he did on helping us win London 2012," said the spokesman.
"The Prime Minister's message would simply be to say: congratulations on a fantastic career."