It’s hard to think of a more famous name in the world than that of David Beckham. The man is not only an incredibly talented footballer but an entire brand of his own. He has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. He is the highest paid footballer ever. His club and international performances have been spectacular. Beckham represents everything the modern game of football is. It’s just as much about the individual as it is the team he plays for. The man is an idol. The man is Golden Balls.
David Robert Joseph Beckham comes from a modest home in Leytonstone, near London. Son of Ted, a kitchen fitter and devoted Manchester United fan, as a boy David would visit Old Trafford and dream about putting on a red shirt himself. His dream came true on his 14th birthday when David joined the Man Utd Youth Team.
David was one of a number of young boys showing huge potential at the time in the Man Utd youth division and the club manager Sir Alex Ferguson was a great believer in the system. This confidence prompted Ferguson to place some of the young rising stars into his first team selections. Beckham got his first chance in a League Cup game against Brighton and Hove Albion in 1992. He quickly impressed and his unbelievable accuracy with passing the ball made him a strong choice as first-team winger. He took Eric Cantona’s number 7 shirt made it his own.
Beckham came along during the latter stages of Manchester United’s domination of English football during the nineties. He represented the best of their new wave of young home-grown players. In the years that followed his time with United, Beckham helped them to the treble in 1998/99 (which included the Champions League title) and he won the UEFA Club Player of the Year for his part that season.
He notched up 62 goals for the United, many from set-pieces, as well as countless goal assists. Although he was already a legend with the Red Devils, there were slightly devious goings on happening off the pitch between the manager Ferguson and Beckham. Much of this stemmed from the overwhelming celebrity status that Beckham was rapidly earning. Ferguson didn’t feel Becks’ wife Victoria was much help to his football. In a famous and rather petty incident with a flying boot in the changing room, it seemed clear that Beckham’s time with his beloved Manchester United would soon be up.
Out of all the dozens of clubs willing to pay the earth for the remarkably talented Becks, Spanish heavy-weights Real Madrid were the ones he wanted to join the most. With so many of the world’s best players in the team, who wouldn’t? Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003 and would go on to play for them for four years, wearing the number 23 shirt and playing 113 games in total. He quickly became an idol for the club and on the day of his transfer the replica shirt bearing his name completely sold out.
Partnering such talents as Figo, Raul, Ronaldo and Zidane didn’t make Becks at all shy. He would play a crucial part in the clubs Champions League campaigns and eventually would be a huge weapon in their winning of the La Liga title in his last season for them in 2006/07.
Controversy surrounding his club departure again though as he was increasingly dropped from the first team and ignored by the coach. Beckham knew it was time to move on. But where he would go to, no one but he would now decide.
In Jan 2007 David signed for US team LA Galaxy for a fee that would see him pocket over £128 million over five years. He didn’t do it for the money though he said. He didn’t do it do bring football (or soccer) to American either. Why he did it, only he knows. He has been welcomed in America like a Hollywood star and his new mansion in Beverly Hills overlooks Tom Cruise’s back garden. The distance across the Atlantic, together with the American’s different season timetable, has meant critics feel his international career is now over. But Becks once again proved these critics wrong.
Beckham has had the most roller-coaster England career since Gazza. It certainly seems for Becks that the higher the highs, the lower the lows. It began in 1996 against Moldova under Glenn Hoddle. The 1998 World Cup in France saw the lowest of the lows for his international career. Beckham’s foot flung out and kicked Argentinean Diego Simone and he literally saw red. His sending off meant the end of England’s tournament and, for the months that followed, the England fans and press took their anger out on Becks. It looked like the end for his international career before it had really got started.
In a remarkable display of resilience Beckham put the incident behind him and worked at gaining back the respect of the English. He did so and he did it a hundred times over with 10/10 performances and goals in numerous back to back matches. He was rewarded with the captain’s armband under Sven-Goran Eriksson and he scored the biggest goal of his career against Greece to secure England’s place in the 2002 World Cup. Here it is again
Although injuries started to plague him, Beckham came back for the Argentina game in that World Cup and scored the penalty that would win the game. In the Euro 2004 he didn’t perform at his best but then neither did any Englishman. Finally Beckham stepped down as captain when the new manager Steve McClaren took over. McClaren then dropped Beckham from his team entirely.
Becks now definitely looked dead and buried for England. But, much like Zidane and France, he ploughed on and played amazingly well for his club team and he was finally rewarded with being recalled to play for England and to try and secure them qualification to the Euro 2008 tournament. He was welcomed back with open arms.
Although his football life has enough drama to fill a thousand column pages, David’s life off the pitch is perhaps where most of the stories have come from. As a young man he was an obvious successor to the other Man United pin-up Ryan Giggs and his blonde locks soon caught the eye of the celebrity girls about town. Spice Girl Victoria ‘Posh’ Adams was the lucky girl and the two married in 1999 with the wedding costing around half a million pounds.
They settled down at Beckingham Palace, near London, where they brought up three boys Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz. Always in the glossy mags, tabloids and on TV, the family became the most famous people in Britain, with celeb mates such as Elton John and Liz Hurley. They moved to Spain when David signed for Madrid and it was here that rumours started about David having had a couple of affairs, one with Rebecca Loos, all of which Becks denied.
Million pound sponsorships, perfumes, clothing ranges, and many more business deals have seen the Beckhams net millions over the years. They are by no means uncharitable though. David is a huge and generous UNICEF supporter as well as Malaria No More and countless others.
David Beckham is a national treasure. He is famous all over the world and for much more than just football. His determination and resilient focus on the pitch is echoed in his personal life and now, only in his thirties, he has plenty more time to become more of the legend that he is.