David Beckham


David Beckham Interview

First Published: Jun 03, 1999

England star David Beckham has been preparing for the crunch Euro 2000 tie by watching a videotape of his European Cup win with Manchester United last week.

"I watched the game last night for the first time and it sunk in a little bit last night but I don't think it will sink in for a long time just what we have achieved this season."

"When you've had a season like we've had it is hard to come down from it. We've got a massive game on Saturday but it's been a little bit hard coming down after the celebrations but I've just got to lift myself now and it won't be hard."

Beckham starts on Saturday in the Group Five tie against Sweden the section leaders at Wembley in new coach Kevin Keegan's first game in charge as the full time coach of the national team. Beckham feels his curent run of senational form can continue.

"When you've been doing well all season and your club has been doing well you want to be involved in every game and you want to keep playing. If you're not going well and the team's not playing well you just want to stop playing. Thankfully this season we've done well and you just want to play as many games as you can."

The midfielder has made 55 starts so far this season for club and country. "I've felt a little tired but at this point in my career I'm only 24. I love playing football. That's my job and that's what I love doing so game after game as long as I am involved then I am happy."

Beckham was in confident and reflective mood this afternoon as he was questioned by the press about about his sending off last summer in the World Cup quarter final against Argentina. The dismissal brought a wave of conmdemnation upon the young player as England crashed out of the competition last year. Beckham spoke of his hurt and concern for others at the vehement reactions against him in England after the game in Saint Etienne.

"I knew as soon as I was back at Old Trafford and training with the lads I had to get the first game out of the way and I knew I would be comfortable. That's what the manager said to me at the time - just forget all about it once you're playing. It was quite hard at first because of the attention I was getting. It affected my family more than me. It was hard but I just got on with it and I've enjoyed this season probably more than any other." I think more than anything the things that were being said in the papers and a lot of people coming out and saying things that hurt me because it was upsetting a lot of the people in my family and a lot of my friends. But I just feel sorry for the people who have been saying things like that. I don't hate anyone - I just enjoy my football and I love playing."

"There were so many things said but it upset me more that it was affecting my Mum and Dad and the people around them. There wasn't one thing in particular that I remember but now we're champions of Europe and champions of England I have forgotten about that.

Beckham will be marrying in July after a two year relationship with Spice Girls pop star Victoria Adams with whom he has a baby son.

"Victoria was upset because I was upset. I was away with Victoria and out of the way so my Mum and Dad got everything really. It wasn't fair on them. They know how I am. They now I am happier now than I have ever been."

"If you go through and experience like that you can either crack or you can come out and make people eat their words which I feel I have done".

"I have just got on with football and that's the important thing to me - playing and enjoying it. Then I am happy.

The player insisted that he could be in more trouble with referees but his interviews this afternoon showed a calm and confident man whose disciplinary record this season has been excellent as United have played their way to three trophies.

"On the pitch I do react if things go on. That is the sort of player I am.If I do get booked for saying something to the referee or kicking a player then that's is me I am never going to change. I have been like that since I started playing football. I have calmed down a little bit but I am the sort of player who gets involved. It was just a spur of the moment thing. For me personally it is all forgotten about now."

"I am only 24 but I have done so many things with club and country probably more than a lot of people have done in the whole of their careers and it has been hard but I would rather it be this way than any other."

"We have won the treble and I'm in the England squad and playing regularly and my private life is perfect. Football-wise everything is perfect there as well. If your private life and your life outside football is good then it is good on the field for you. As I have said I am happier now than I have ever been at the moment. My football is going really well."

The star spoke of the new mature attitudes he was adopting.

"When you do have kids you do grow up. People did say that to me. I have just started realising it now it changes the world - having children."

He is thrilled to be involved again with the national side.

"It is the best feeling in the world playing for your country. Even as a young lad it is something you always want to do. You want to play for England and you want to put the England shirt on and every player really feels like that. There was something in the paper the other day about how much players earn. If the money wasn't there would they still enjoy playing for their country ? It is something that I have always loved. I have always wanted to play for Man United and I've always wanted to play for my country and I am doing both. I couldn't be happier."

Playing wide right for United has brought Beckham a host of rave reviews over the past three years but he feels the best is yet to come and is contemplating a new positional challenge in the sides he plays for.

"As long as I'm playing I don't care where I'm playing. I do enjoy playing in the middle and I was given that chance in the European Cup final so it was special to me. I have been playing all year on the right and I have enjoyed it and that people have said I've been doing well. As long as I am involved in the team then that is all that matters.." Personally I prefer inside but I have set up so many goals this season playing on the right so I have enjoyed that as well. As long as I am providing crosses and doing what I can to get other people goals then I enjoy any position but I do probably prefer the middle more."

In the middle you are more involved in the game, you get more of the ball and you can see more around you. On the right there is only a few balls you can play - whip it in or I can knock it into the middle."

"Sweden are a very good time. They must be a good team because they beat England 2-1 the last time we played them. We have got great players and we are a good team too so I am sure it will be an interesting game."

Beckham's driving dsiplay at the centre of the Uniuted midfiedl against bayern Munich earned plaudite from across Europe and he was revealed last month to be richest player in the world after Inter star Ronaldo.

"It's is always nice to be respected as a footballer. I am going to go out and enjoy the game and if I can set one or two goals up then so be it - I would love to."

"Whatever I do on or off the pitch people are going to say things - whether good or bad- I can live with that as long as I am doing what I can on the pitch. I love little kids looking up to me, young players looking up to me, respecting me. It is something I have always done since a youngster. I looked up to great players like Bryan Robson and Bobby Charlton. That is how I want to be looked at. I don't want to be looked at with people saying horrible things about me off the pitch either." The burdens of fame - he arrived to meet reporters amid a crowd of photographers with camera crews and autograph hunters - are something he now feels well able to cope with.

"Is there any privacy for me ? In my own home when the curtains are closed but apart from that that's it. There are so many people trying to get into my life - a piece of me - but I have come to terms with it and I accept that really now. It has gone of for the whole year since the summer. I have grown up and I am enjoying the things that are going on at the moment."

David Beckham - Marie Claire Interview

May 2002

David, congratulations on the new baby. You really wanted another child, didn't you?
Well, according to the papers I 'ordered' Victoria to have another baby.

I'd like to see you try to order Victoria to do anything.
Exactly [laughs]. The truth is we both wanted another one and it's also been written that Victoria was having fertility treatment, which she wasn't. It was just a case of picking when to have another baby we are so busy.

So you had to make do with just practicing for a while.
Exactly. Which is the best thing, I like practicing [smiles]. But I adore children. I love the fact that our children are part of both of us, it's one of the most amazing things ever.

Do you find Victoria attractive when she's pregnant?
Really attractive [enthusiastically]. I think it's one of the sexiest times in a woman's life. When the little bump starts to appear, you think God, then you get the baby books out and realise their little fingernails are growing and that tomorrow, something else will have grown. Having a baby is the most amazing thing that you can do.

Would you like a girl or boy this second time around?
I don't mind. As long as it's healthy - touch wood - I'm not bothered either way.

Have you been amused by the newspapers' name suggestions?
Yeah! I've heard Paris for a girl, Essex or Trafford have also been mentioned.

Peckham Beckham. That's not good. We definitely won't be going with that.

Will you succumb to the services of a nanny when you have two children to look after?
No. We've got two great nannies - our parents. We'd be totally lost without them. It's not easy juggling it all, because Victoria spends a lot of time in London and I'm up in Manchester most of the time, but we get by. I don't have a problem with nannies, but we don't need one, we manage as we are.

You suprised a lot of people recently when delivering some funny lines and quick put-downs in Victoria's documentary, Being Victoria Beckham. Why has it taken you so long to relax on camera?
But I've always been like that. I just think people haven't seen that side to me, because everyone's been so quick to say that I'm really thick or I haven't got a brain. I've just let people believe that. It doesn't bother me. People will think whatever they want to think.

It's usually Victoria who comes out with the one-liners and indiscreet comments. Like when she said that, just minutes after she'd given birth to Brooklyn, you asked her to do your hair so you could go and announce his birth to the press.
This is actually true, which is quite embarrassing [groans]. But I was going through that phase where I had that big fringe and I couldn't do it myself.

But my favourite is her saying that the reason she's so slim is because you're an animal in bed.
Well that one's true! That's definitely one of the true ones. But I don't mind that [laughs]

This month, you're the first man to appear alone on the cover of Marie Claire.
That's what made me want to do it, because I'm the first man ever to go on the cover. I was like, "Wow!". I was so excited about doing this shoot, really excited.

The last time you appeared in Marie Claire was as a contributing photographer taking pictures of Victoria for us.
I thought they looked good - I was quite proud of myself. I've obviously never done anything like that before, but it was nice taking pictures of Victoria. It's always nice taking pictures of beautiful people, and because Victoria's so beautiful, she made it easy.

At the time of going to press, David had suffered the injury to his foot and his World Cup dreams hung in the balance.

The world Cup is getting closer. In light of your experiences in 1998, are you breaking out in cold sweats at the thought of it.
No, I'm not nervous, just really excited.

When were you told you'd be the England captain for the world cup?
I haven't been told that I'm going to be. I'm just hoping that I am [laughs]

Is that normal?
Yeah. I've been captain for a year now, so I would imagine I'll be doing it in Japan. I'd be disappointed if I wasn't.

To be told you'll captain your country is every footballer's dream. How did you react when you got the call.
It happened about a year ago. It was 8am and I was staying over at Gary Neville's house when the phone rang. I thought 'Who the hell is that?' but it was Peter Taylor [England caretaker manager] saying he was naming me as captain in the squad announcement that day. I was so proud, because it was something I'd always dreamed of, but I was also really suprised.

Why Surprised?
I was surprised that someone had had the balls to give me the job, because it could have been a controversial decision.

What did you say when you were told?
I think I swore.

You never swear publicly, but you do swear on the pitch, don't you?
I know and I shouldn't, but everyone does during a game, you can't help it. I don't swear at home though, because I don't want Brooklyn picking it up.

Are you quite a bossy captain?
On the pitch I am, because you have to take charge and be assertive, but off the pitch I'm not. I've got someone around me who already does that. [He gestures towards Victoria and laughs]

Do you get nervous before or during a game? You know, when you're taking a free kick or a corner, when all eyes are on you?
Never [emphatically]. I've been practicing those my whole life, it's what comes naturally I don't really suffer with nerves.

But you did when you went on Parkinson
Yeah I did [Laughs]. I'd never been on a programme like that before, so I don't know what to expect. There was a lot of stuff in the media saying Parky wouldn't bother to ask me any intelligent questions, because I wouldn't know how to answer them.

At this point, the hairdresser steps in to cut David's hair for the shoot. A scenario any betting man would love to witness, since weeks of speculation as to which look David will take with him to Japan has provoked William Hill to open a book with the odds varying between the mohican, the skinhead and the 'retro' blond curtains.

David, what is it with you and your ever-changing hairstyles?
I just like to change things. I know people think I'm trying to make some kind of statement, but I'm not. When I had the mohican, there was so much made of it, it was unbelievable. I was playing for England at the time and when I was at the games, I saw these little kids walking around the grounds with the same haircut.

Does it Irrititate or Flatter you?
It flatters me when it's the kids.

Have you ever considered having a laugh with your fashion clout and trying to bring back something hideous, like the mullet?
[Laughs] If it looked good, I'd do it, but I don't think the mullet would look good. Don't laugh, but when I was younger, I wanted one of those hairdo's where it's short at the sides and straight on top, then long at the back and curly. I really wanted one of them, but my mum would never let me have it.

There's a brilliant story your mum tells about your first attempts at clothes shopping when you were seven and you'd been asked to be a page boy.
I know exactly the story you're talking about and it's all true [giggling]

Against her better judgement, you chose...
White ballet shoes, white knee-high socks, maroon knickerbockers and a matching waistcoat and white frilly shirt. I though it looked good. Maybe it was all the excitement of being a page boy.

But your mum warned you that people might laugh at you. Didn't that concern you?
I've never cared what people think of me. I'm sure they say I look stupid in a lot of the things I wear now. But even with the sarong, my dad, who's a real man's man, thought it looked alright. And I liked it at the time.

People say you're vain. do you think so.
I just like to look good. I don't love myself and I don't think I'm vain. Do you think I'm vain?

You can see why people might think you're a bit of a big girls blouse, because you have manicures, sunbeds and bleach your hair.
But it makes you feel good, doesn't it?

How are your nails today?
They need doing actually! [He holds both hands out for inspection.] I sound like a girl, don't I ? [laughs]

You're also one of the few footballers to become a gay icon.
And I'm flattered. I'm very comfortable, with it.

The way you look garners so much press attention - you'd have a much quieter life if you toned it down sometimes.
But I like nice clothes, whether they're dodgy or not. Sometimes, it looks right and other times it doesn't, but everyone goes through that.

Is there any look or outfit you look back on and cringe at?
Probably the blond curtains and a recent haircut which was a sort of army look, short back and sides and slightly longer on the top - that was a bad idea [shakes head ruefully.]

And then there was a photo shoot I did for the Manchester United magazine, where I wore lots of different ties and pulled silly faces. That was pretty bad, but you learn along the way.

Do you think you are a bit of a showman?

Is that why you like taking free kicks and so on, because it's a chance to take centre stage?
I do like to be looked at in that way. I like people to look at me for my football and think 'wow'

Would it bother you if someone came into the game who was better in that role than you are?
No, because I'd have to get better. I'm very competitive like that.

Do you think that people underestimate just how ambitious you are, because you don't really shout it?
Probably, but I've never made a secret of my ambitions. I've always said I wanted to play for Manchester United and then for England and then to be England captain.

Most stars of your ilk, like Robbie, Madonna, Elton and even your wife, are very outspoke and flamboyant.
But it's not my style. I'd rather people talked about my football then me.

But you are a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde in many respects. You're very placid off the pitch, but you can be very hot-headed when you're playing.
I've been criticised for it over the years, and quite rightly so. I'd kick out at people. It was something I went through when I was younger, and for some reason, I just kept snapping. That comes back to haunt you, as I've learned, but I think I've managed to get it under control now.

There must have been times when you've been tempted to lose it in stressful public situations, too, like with a paparazzo.
I nearly lost it once. Me and Victoria were out having a meal and two photographers jumped out from nowhere and one of them knocked her with their camera. She was pregnant at the time, so I snapped at them, but these days, you can get sued for so many things, so I keep my temper in check.

If you could buy back your anonymity, would you?
In situations like that, yeah. But to be fair, I don't think I'd change much about my life, and I don't think I'm really in a situation to complain, because I've put myself in this position and I consider myself to be privileged to be doing what I do. We don't ask for most of the publicty we get but, in this day and age, it comes with the job.

The interview is halted briefly by a breathless entrance from Brooklyn, who has been running around the studio playing chase with his mother. He's dwarfed by the football he's carrying - the official Adidas Beckham ball, no less - and has come looking for his dad in the hope of a game. The three-year-old stops in his tracks when he catches sight of David's hair, which is smeared in blue bleach.

'Hair Daddy?' he says, looking worried.
'Yeah, it's going to be white,' placates his father.
'White', says Brooklyn.
'That's right', David replies.
'Oh. I want a wee-wee, Daddy'
'Alright buster, let Daddy help you.' says David. And he cordially excuses himself while he leads his son by the hand to the little boy's room.

I bet you're relieved for Brooklyn that he can play football well.
[Laughs] That would be awful [if he couldn't play], wouldn't it? But he's really good, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his dad. I'd love him to be a footballer when he grows up, really love it. He just picked up a ball one day and started kicking it, and he just gets better and better. He's fearless with a ball and he loves it. But he's got Victoria's musical side in him as well - he picks up songs really quickly when he hears them on the radio. Once he's heard a song a few times, he knows how it's going to end or how it goes. He's got rhythm too, which he definitely gets from his mum.

In her last interview with Marie Claire, Victoria told us that you had no rhythm and that you were a hopeless dancer.
It's true. I can't dance. I went to see Usher in concert, and he can really dance. But not me, I don't even try.

You recently went to an Oasis gig in Manchester too, which I thought was very brave of you, considering the group are very vocal Manchester City fans.
Well, Gary Neville absolutely loves them, so I got the tickets. But I knew I might get a bit of stick, because Liam had slaughtered me and Victoria in a magazine interview about a month before. I have to say, it was one of the most amazing performances I've ever seen, apart from the Spice Girls and stuff Victoria's done, obviously. Halfway through, Noel said, 'I want you all on your feet for this next song, and that includes you Mr Beckham.' So I was quite pleased that I got off lightly. I expected worse, to be honest, and then the fans started singing my name, so that was pretty amazing.

Going to gigs must be hard in terms of being able to just blend into the crowd. What other things would you like to do, but can't.
Most things are quite tricky in terms of going out. But what I miss doing, and so does Victoria, is just sitting in a bar in London or one of those pavement cafes, having a drink in the sunshine. I'd love to take Brooklyn to play football in Hyde Park too, but it wouldn't work. We just can't do it.

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