Beckham, 38, announced on Thursday that he was retiring at the end of the season after winning trophies and titles in four countries and earning 115 caps for England - a record for an outfield player.
In a glittering career, the former England captain has become one of the world's best known and wealthiest footballers with a celebrity lifestyle and fame as a style and fashion superstar.
"I would say he has been a good player, I wouldn't put him down as a great," Waddle, 52, told BBC radio.
"You can go down a list of players from the Premier League or the 70s or 80s. I'll be honest, Beckham probably wouldn't be in the first 1,000.
"I think there has been a lot more talented players in the world. But he made the most of what he has got."
Waddle won 62 England caps in a career playing for Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield Wednesday and Olympique Marseille in France.
He and Beckham did not overlap in the England team, with Waddle's last cap coming in 1991 and the then-Manchester United player making his senior international debut in 1996.
The two men do share one England claim to fame, having both blazed a penalty over the bar in a major tournament shoot-out defeat.
Waddle's ballooned effort came in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against Germany while Beckham sent his almost as high against Portugal in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals.
English newspapers went to town on Beckham's impending retirement, with the best selling Sun tabloid putting him on the Friday's front page as well as pages four, five, six, seven and most of the sports section.
They also included a 12-page pullout celebrating his career.
"End it like Beckham," was a widespread headline, alluding to a popular 2002 film 'Bend it Like Beckham' starring a young Keira Knightley.
"He has got a terrific image and used it very well. He never had a trick, wasn't particularly quick, but he was very good at set-pieces and deliveries, he made chances and made goals and was fantastic for clubs," said Waddle.
"He said the right things, he sold shirts, he put money in the tills wherever he went and conducted himself well."
- Sports & Recreation