David Beckham is more than just a name, he is an illustrious brand. Beckham is just as good a footballer as he is a marketer, and he has managed to create equity with his fans like none other. But just like any other brand, brand Beckham was hit by a few potshots too. He rolled with the punches mostly, but some of these events are stuck in the memory of the unforgiving public. On the day of his retirement, while everyone spews words of appreciation, let’s play the devil’s advocate and dig out the dirt that David ‘Golden Balls’ Beckham would rather give a miss.
Glen Hoddle took over as England manager in May 1996, and he caused quite a stir with his methods. To begin with, he left out Paul Gascoigne and also employed a ‘faith healer’ as part of the team. Beckham, who had played all the qualification matches in the run up to the 1998 World Cup in France, did not start the first two group matches. He was accused by Hoddle of not being focused and not concentrating enough on the tournament. The twenty-something did come on eventually in the third round of the group stage, scoring his first goal for the national team from a typical long range free kick, but he will certainly never forget the treatment that was meted out to him initially, at a stage of such grandeur. Maybe some faith healing should do the trick.
Still in the 1998 France World Cup, David Beckham featured in the match against Argentina, after England made the Round of 16. Beckham got himself sent off unabashedly after he lashed out at the Argentinian Diego Simeone. A tackle by the Argentinian saw Beckham hit the floor, and the Englishman wanted payback with a shrug of his leg. Simeone crumpled and Beckham saw red. The former did admit to simulation, but that was long after tainting the latter’s international career. Becks did finally get his revenge, after he scored the only goal in a win against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup.
The last name notwithstanding, the former personal assistant for David Beckham came out with an explosive story of adultery and deceit. Loos had made the move with Beckham to Spain and they worked closely to set up shop in the new country. Victoria Beckham was still concentrating on her music career in England and the distance was uncharacteristic of the star pair. The tabloids lapped up the behind-the-scenes blow-by-blow account of the darling footballer and his escapades, and Loos even claimed to have become an ‘alternate wife’. Truth or not, the printed word holds greater precedence in today’s world and Becks was guilty of a public relations disaster. The trouble was short-lived, as Posh emphasized on how this only made their marriage stronger. Loos, on the other hand, was on every cover, every series and reality show, which served the cause well. No one’s pointing fingers at anyone, but this was a low that Beckham could have easily avoided.
The Hair Dryer
Lot of people didn’t approve of the coming together of the football superstar and the pop icon. One of them was Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. He famously said, “He was never a problem until he got married. He used to go into work with the academy coaches at night time; he was a fantastic young lad. Getting married into that entertainment scene was a difficult thing – from that moment his life was never going to be the same. He is such a big celebrity; football is only a small part. The big part is his persona.”
Dripping lava, Ferguson was playing the rumbling volcano. He finally exploded in an infamous dressing room spat, and boot met face. Shoe-gate, as it is commonly known, was the result of an ‘accidental’ kick from Ferguson, which left him needing stitches. After the compulsory ‘everything was alright’, Beckham headed for the airport.
This is not really a low; it is more of an embarrassment, on the global stage. A quirky nickname picked out by his better half is just the tip of the iceberg though. More often than not, the underwear ads overpowered his presence on the field and his metrosexuality caught more eyeballs than his football. Of course, those are his personal choices and he lives as he wishes, but with great power comes great responsibility. He is a global icon who is recognized all over the world and he knows it. Little kids look up to him and idolize the top corner. A little more conscientiousness would have helped him keep his slate clean and squeaky.
To err is human, as they say. David Beckham is a legend in his own right and we love him and worship the boot that launched a thousand hearts. His lows only add to his human side and help us believe that one day we will have a shot at greatness too.