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
"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
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
"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
"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
Beckham - Marie Claire Interview
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
I'd like to see you try to order Victoria to do
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
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
I don't mind. As long as it's healthy - touch wood - I'm not bothered
Have you been amused by the newspapers' name suggestions?
Yeah! I've heard Paris for a girl, Essex or Trafford have also
Peckham Beckham. That's not good. We definitely won't be going
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
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
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.
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
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
[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
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
Is there any look or outfit you look back on and
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
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
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
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
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.