Retired English soccer star David Beckham, an international celebrity both on and off the field, was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive," on Tuesday.

"It's a huge honour," Beckham, 40, told People of being handed the title on its 30th anniversary. "I'm very pleased to accept."

The soccer legend and husband of pop star and fashion designer Victoria Beckham has long been known for his chiseled good looks. He has been featured in advertisements for Pepsi, Adidas, and modeled underwear for Giorgio Armani, but the sportsman and father of four told People he has never thought of himself as "an attractive, sexy person."

"I mean I like to wear nice clothes and nice suits and look and feel good, but I don't ever think of myself that way," he said.

Beckham's wife, Victoria, 41, was supportive of his new title, he said.

"I would hope that she feels this way about me all the time anyway," he told People.

Beckham, although retired, is the first athlete to receive the distinction from the magazine. The only other man not from the performing arts to be named was John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1988.

Winners in recent years have included last year's choice Chris Hemsworth, singer Adam Levine and Canadian Ryan Reynolds.

Mel Gibson was the first to receive the honour, in 1985.

With files from CBC