David Beckham Bio
Full Name: David Robert Joseph Beckham OBE
Born: May 2, 1975 in Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom
Height: 182cm (6ft)
Marital Status: Married to Victoria Caroline Adams Beckham
Children: 3 sons - Brooklyn Joseph, born Mar 4, 1999, Romeo James, born Sept 1, 2002, Cruz David born Feb 20, 2005
Current Club: Real Madrid
Squad Number: 23
David Beckham is inarguably one of the most celebrated and successful athletes of his era. He has spent his entire career in professional football with only two teams firstly the Manchester United team, a team he has supported since birth and which will always have a special place in his affections and Real Madrid, the world-famous home of Los Galacticos in Madrid, Spain. He has bolstered the already legendary status of both clubs. Secondly, "Becks," is one of the world's most popular pin-up boys, and his face appears in advertisements for products ranging from hair gel to sausages and has graced the cover of magazines such as Vanity Fair and Mari Claire. Married to pop star Victoria "Posh" Adams, Beckham's every move including joint shopping excursions with his wife is avidly chronicled in the British tabloids. Notwithstanding his telegenic looks, Beckham's prowess on the football pitch remains unparalleled. "There is nothing more beautiful in the game than the sight of one of Mr. Beckham's free kicks arching over the defenders's wall and curling into a corner of the net, or one of his signature cross shots cannonading off his foot and speeding like a guided missile toward one of his leaping teammates," opined New York Times writer Warren Hoge. Closer to home, he has been termed "English football's willowy, floppy-haired poster boy, the living symbol of the new affluence which has enabled the game to shake itself free of its roots," asserted Independent writer Richard Williams.
David Beckham was born on May 2, 1975, in Leytonstone, England. He grew up in a solidly middle-class area of Essex called Chingford, where his father, Ted, was a kitchen renovator and his mother worked as a hairdresser. Winning a football skills tournament at the age of eleven, Beckham won a place at a football academy for youth run by the Tottenham Spurs team. As a teen, however, he was rejected for a spot in the English junior league, on account of being considered "too small". One of the country's most celebrated teams, however, took an interest in him, and Beckham entered the legendary Manchester United club organization as a 14-year-old recruit in its development league in 1989; two years later, he began playing on its youth team. In 1992, Beckham led his team to a national championship with their win in the Football Association (FA) Youth Cup finals.
Manchester United, rivals to cross-town Manchester City, overcame an infamous tragedy in 1957 when a plane crash killed several team members en route from a game in West Germany. Eleven years later, they became the first English team in history to win the prized European Cup. Over the years, Manchester's fortunes rose, and it became a leader in the FA, known for its mix of veteran players and young upstarts. "Manchester United is to Britain what the New York Yankees are to the United States," explained Hoge in the New York Times, "a collection of highly paid athletes who win with a dynastic consistency, which makes them adored in Manchester and loathed elsewhere."
On 2 April 1995, David made his League debut at home to Leeds United. His first team debut had come two and a half years earlier when he came on as a substitute, 20 minutes from time, during the away leg of a Rumbelows Cup second round tie at Brighton and Hove Albion on October 1 1992. However, in the meantime to gain experience, Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager of Manchester United, had loaned David Beckham to Preston North for a period, during which he played in 5 games and scored 2 goals. During his first game in the 1996-97 season, Beckham made a stunning shot that brought him overnight fame and a place in the annals of football: he scored a goal from inside his own half of the field in a game against Wimbledon, a shot of nearly 60 yards.
Beckham was given a spot on the English national squad within a few days another impressive honor for such a young player and continued to play well for Manchester, scoring an impressive eleven goals during his first season. His ability to "bend" a shot to send it flying in an arc that eludes opposing players soon became legendary, and some medical experts even theorized that an unusual combination of joints in his knees and ankles helps him achieve such aerodynamic precision. Beckham, explained New Statesman's Hunter Davies, "is bandy-legged-but only from the knees down.... Above the knee, his legs and thighs go straight up and are what we call normal. But below the knees, each leg is curved inwards like a boomerang. Very weird. This abnormality explains how he can bend the ball when taking corners and free kicks."
As the 1998 World Cup in France loomed, Beckham was increasingly tagged as the player to watch, the one who would take England to a long awaited finals finish. Hoddle, who coached the national squad, attempted to check some of this anticipation by keeping Beckham out of the first match. He was sent in to a game against Romania after another player was injured, and then against Colombia scored his first goal for England, a fantastic free-kick shot.
Thus emotions ran high when England began its next game in the second round, a match against bitter foe Argentina on the St. Etienne pitch on June 30. The two nations had gone to war in 1982, and four years later Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, considered one of the sport's greatest players, scored a winning goal with his hand in a move that was overlooked by referees. Maradona later claimed that it was "the hand of God" that put that ball into the net, and all subsequent World Cup matches between the two countries were marked by intense play and even more ardent crowd reactions. At the start of the second half in the 1998 game, England was down 1-0 when the captain of the Argentine team, Diego Simeone, smashed into Beckham's back. Beckham fell over, and flicked his heel at Simeone, who then collapsed in the melodramatic theatrics which are often a hallmark of international football play. The referee showed up and gave Simeone a yellow card for the first foul, but then flashed a red card at Beckham, ejecting him from the game.
England lost the match, and Beckham was vilified as a loose cannon, a player whose recklessness had yielded another blow to English national pride. Even Hoddle made negative remarks in the next day's papers, and one infamous newspaper photo showed an effigy of Beckham clad in his Manchester jersey and a sarong, that had once made headlines of a different sort for him, on fire outside a pub. "I will always regret my actions," the Independent quoted him as saying not long after the debacle. "I have apologised to the England players and management and I want every England supporter to know how deeply sorry I am.... I was absolutely staggered when [the referee] produced the red and sent me off. I felt sick and numb. I couldn't believe what was happening to me." The apology failed to stem the tide of negative press. In the respected Times of London, writer Rob Hughes wryly noted that a dozen "years on from Diego Maradona's infamy in Mexico City, comes David Beckham, a gifted but flawed player, to show that the English are well capable of defeating themselves."
Fans and reporters even besieged the Beckham family home in Chingford, and when the new season started, he was given police protection. Crowds booed him every time he had the ball, and sang vicious chants. Though Beckham publicly apologized, he also flew to New York City to be with his girlfriend immediately after the St. Etienne game. He had been dating former Spice Girl Victoria Adams for several months, and the pair had just found out that they were expecting a baby. Beckham later told Kate Thornton in Sunday Times that Adams's support was crucial during those tough months. "I couldn't have got through it without her; she was my saviour," he told the paper, and claimed that what "hurt the most about the World Cup was how my family were treated—I thought that was really out of order.... At first I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel because by the time I got back from France it was totally out of control, there was nothing I could do or say to make it stop."
Beckham's life improved considerably during 1999. His son, Brooklyn, was born on March 4, 1999, and he led Manchester United to an impressive season finish: the team won the Premier League championship, the FA Carling Premiership, and the European Champions's Cup in what is known as a Treble victory. He and Adams were married on July 4, 1999, at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland in a ceremony reported to have cost almost $800,000. Over the next year, he returned to his vaulted status in the British tabloids though there were sometimes rumors that he might defect to play for an Italian team and earned impressive contractual endorsements that upped his income considerably. Beckham, wrote Andrew Longmore in the Independent Sunday, "has epitomised the ultimate fusion of football and popular culture, the family trees of Manchester United and the Spice Girls, of ancient traditions and disposable fashion joined together in one big money-making enterprise to be known hereafter as Mr and Mrs D Beckham Ltd."
In October of 2001, Beckham made a free kick in the last moments of a World Cup qualifying match against Greece that won the game and gave England a cherished place in the finals. Now the captain of the English national team, Beckham inspired a frenzy of new headlines in April of 2002, just weeks before the May 31 start of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, when he injured his second metatarsal, one of the bones between the ankle and toes, during a game against Spanish team Deportivo La Coruña. Literally adding insult to injury, Beckham's pain was caused by a two footed tackle from an Argentine player for La Coruña. One newspaper printed a photograph and asked readers to lay their hands on it in with healing wishes, and even British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesperson told the press, according to Sports Illustrated, that "nothing is more important to England's preparations than the state of David Beckham's foot." Okayed to play by doctors just in time, Beckham atoned for his 1998 red card when he scored with a penalty kick in the 44th minute of the first half. Argentina never scored, and England won the game 1-0. At the finish, Beckham ran to the Argentine side of stadium and waved his jersey, giving out a jubilant yell.
The British press concurred. Headlines and commentary deployed laudatory, heroic terms to describe his performance. "Leadership. Calm. Maturity. Responsibility. All the words that could never have been applied to Beckham four years ago have been raining down on him for months," wrote Simon Barnes in the Times of London. "You can tell a great sportsman not merely by his skill, but by the way he deals with an occasion.... Yesterday was the most massive occasion of his life. And he rose." Barnes also stated that "the emotion he displayed in scoring showed clearly that this was an exorcism of four years of grief and misery, of shame and humiliation. For his mistake four years ago was not the error of a footballer, it was the error of a man. Not technique, but character."
Prior to his World Cup feat, Beckham was signed to another three years by Manchester for 14 million British pounds, which tripled his salary. The contract which took a year of negotiation to finalize would keep him wearing the Manchester red until the end of June in 2005. For all of the press items that chronicle his haircuts, his clothes, his cars - Ferrari, Porsche, and Jaguar are his preferred rides - and the lavish lifestyle of "Posh" and "Becks," Beckham remains a down-to-earth celebrity athlete. He is not known for his carousing ways, is often photographed nuzzling his son, and his father still attends every one of his games. He calls his wife "the only woman I've ever loved," as he told Thornton in the Sunday Times. Beckham's prowess on the football pitch has even been honored with an independent film, Bend It Like Beckham, a 2002 release from Bhaji on the Beach director Gurinder Chadha. The story centers on a teenage girl who dreams of a professional football career, much to the dismay of her Indian Sikh parents. Beckham took on a new project in 2002, designing a line of clothing for boys aged six to 14. Beckham told the BBC that the apparel, which will be sold in Britain's Marks & Spencer stores, is "the kind of clothes which I would have wanted to wear when I was younger." On September 1, 2002, Beckham and his wife welcomed the birth of their second son, Romeo, in London, England.
In June of 2003, the Spanish football club FC Barcelona agreed to a conditional deal with Manchester United to sign Beckham for $50 million. However, later that month, Manchester United confirmed that they had agreed to sell Beckham to Real Madrid, FC Barcelona's rival (Beckham had two years remaining on his Manchester United contract). On July 1, 2003, Beckham signed a four-year contract with Real Madrid, worth $40 million. Beckham successfully adjusted to a new club and new country of residence and in both the 2004/05 season and again in 2005/06 was the leading player for assists in La Liga. He also was voted best player for the most recent season. He has proved very popular with both the Madrid press and the famously demanding fans. On February 20, 2005 Beckham and his wife Victoria, welcomed the birth of their third son, Cruz David Beckham.
David Beckham captained England to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He became the first Englishman to score a goal in three world cups with a beautiful curling free-kick against Ecuador which took England through to the quarter-finals against Portugal. A game which sadly they lost on penalties, after David Beckham limped from the field in th 51st minute with a torn Achilles and a sprained knee. The day after England were eliminated, July 2, 2006 Beckham resigned as England Captain.
Bio courtesy of Marquee, New York Times, Sunday Times and the Independent.