David Beckham choked back tears as he spoke candidly about his life and career in a new Netflix docu-series that reflects on his three decades in the spotlight.
The sportsman, 48, burst into the limelight at the tender age of 17 as Manchester United’s budding new midfielder, quickly earning himself the reputation as football’s golden boy and one of the most talented players of his generation.
Yet his career threatened to be derailed when he was blamed for England’s World Cup 1998 exit after lashing out at Diego Simeone, sparking a lengthy campaign of hate and abuse from fans.
Reflecting on the turbulent period, which David faced at the age of just 23, the athlete confessed he was a ‘mess’ and left unable to eat or sleep, with his wife Victoria, 49, revealing he suffered from clinical depression and the experience ‘broke’ him.
David recalled feeling ‘very vulnerable and alone’ as he landed back in the UK to hordes of jeering spectators and negative press, with his father Ted admitting David was ‘distraught’ when he met him, saying the young sports star ‘fell into my arms and said, “I’ve left everybody down.”‘
Heartbreaking: David Beckham choked back tears as he spoke candidly about his life and career in a new Netflix docu-series that reflects on his three decades in the spotlight
Cute couple: The documentary also featured footage from his wedding to Victoria, where their guests were made to wear black and white while he and Victoria donned garish purple outfits
First child: The couple welcomed son Brooklyn on March 4, 1999 at Portland Hospital in London, with David calling fatherhood ‘the most amazing thing’
The night before the World Cup game, David had learnt that Victoria was pregnant with their first child and after touching down in England to see his parents he wasted no time jetting off to New York to spend time with his expectant fiancée – who was touring the States with The Spice Girls.
Victoria confessed: ‘I remember not really understanding how serious it was because you know I’ve never really been into football.
‘When he came to me in America he felt he let himself down, he let his teammates down, he let his country down, he let the fans down, me – he felt he let everybody down.
‘But when he was with us Spice Girls there was protection, people couldn’t get to us, we could put a cotton wool around us.
‘I don’t think either of us really realised what was going on in the UK. He went from having that protection into absolute carnage.’
Growing emotional as he reflected on the backlash he received, David confessed: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it because I can’t.
‘I find it hard to talk about what I went through because it was so extreme. The whole country hated me.’
Detailing the horrific abuse – which became so bad that he was unable to visit the toilet unattended for fear of being attacked on the way – David continued: ‘Wherever I went, I got abused every day.
‘To walk down the street and see people look at you a certain way, spit at you, abuse you, come up to your face and say some of the things that they said, that’s difficult.
‘I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, I was a mess.’
Struggle: David’s career threatened to be derailed when he was blamed for England’s World Cup 1998 exit and reflecting on the turbulent period the athlete confessed he was a ‘mess’
By his side: David was supported by Victoria who he met when she attended a Manchester United game with bandmate Melanie C
Cute couple: David and Victoria were all over each other in the early stages of their romance
Number one fan: Victoria may not have enjoyed football but she ensured she turned out to support her husband when he was playing
David, who received death threats and had effigies made in his likeness, went on to detail the impact it had on his parents, Ted and Sandra, noting: ‘It brought a lot of attention that I would never wish on anyone, let alone my parents and I can’t forgive myself for that.
‘That’s the tough part that happened then. I’m 47 years old now and I beat myself up about it still. Inside it killed me.’
As David’s teammate Phil Neville spoke out about the ‘inhumane’ way David was treated by the nation, Victoria remarked: ‘He was really depressed, clinically depressed.
‘It pained me so much. I still want to kill these people [for how they treated him].’
Victoria also took aim at the 1998 World Cup manager Glen Hoddle, seething: ‘He didn’t come out and try to protect David and how old was David, 23?
‘You’re a kid at 23 and Glen Hoddle was a man – well I wouldn’t even call him a man actually, he was an older person – I mean the absolute hate, public bullying…’
Thankfully, David was able to redeem himself when he took on Diego once again at the Manchester United vs Inter Milan Champions League quarter final in 1999.
Yet while all eyes were on David and his grudge match with the Argentinian player, David confessed his thoughts were consumed by the fact Victoria could welcome their first child any at any day because she was already two weeks over her due date when the match occurred.
It caused tension between the pair, with teammate Gary Neville recalling hearing the pair bicker over the phone.
‘They were at each other, he was distracted, ‘ Gary noted. Victoria was saying “if you’re not here, if you miss this birth, if you’re not back…” and I went, “turn your f***ing phone off, you’ll be melted by the time we get to the game tonight.”‘
After a rocky start to the game, David was able to find solace in the crowd chanting his name, helping Manchester United spur on to a 2-0 victory.
He was able to make it back in time for the birth of his first child and was by Victoria’s side for her caesarean section, with Victoria quick to clear up: ‘I wasn’t too posh to push, I was told it would not be safe for me to be put into labour.’
Steady: David nearly missed the birth of their first child because of game commitments but thankfully he made it back in time
Fears: Upon becoming a father though, his priorities shifted, with David recalling: ‘I all of a sudden thought, “how am I going to protect him?”‘
Victoria revealed: ‘We were getting kidnapping threats right from when we had Brooklyn and you can’t even explain how that feels because we couldn’t hide’
She mused: ‘I’d go to the games with Brooklyn and the abuse was – it’s hard to explain’
The couple welcomed son Brooklyn on March 4, 1999 at Portland Hospital in London, with David calling fatherhood ‘the most amazing thing’.
Yet even the prospect of welcoming his first child wasn’t enough to stop him from thinking about his image, with Victoria recalling that when she was in labour and lying in bed numb from the waist down due to an epidural, the footballer had cheekily asked if she could style his hair.
Upon becoming a father though, his priorities shifted, with David recalling: ‘I all of a sudden thought, “how am I going to protect him?”
‘That night Brooklyn slept next to Victoria, she said “come sleep on the bed with me” and I said “absolutely not”, I slept with my head facing the door, because I was paranoid someone was going to steal him.
‘It’s meant to be a happy moment, and it was a happy moment of course, but I was worried. I didn’t want him to come into this life at a time when I was going through what I was going through.’
Voicing her fears for her young son, Victoria revealed: ‘We were getting kidnapping threats right from when we had Brooklyn and you can’t even explain how that feels because we couldn’t hide.
‘These are all things that are now coming back to me and I find it quite stressful now because I’ve blocked so much of it out and I think David has as well.
‘Imagine having a baby and having death threats. David had to play knowing this was all going on and I was on my own in an apartment with a baby.
‘I’d go to the games with Brooklyn and the abuse was – it’s hard to explain.’
She recalled one particularly vulgar chant from fans, in which they’d scream ‘Posh Spice takes it up the a**e’, with Victoria admitting: ‘It’s embarrassing, it’s hurtful.
‘I remember sitting down and the lady next to me turned and she didn’t know what to say, she said “do you want a polo?” Because what do you say when you sit next to someone and 75,000 people have been saying you take it up the a**e?
‘We did not know what to do. it felt like we were drowning.’
Ironically, it was the abuse aimed at his family that ‘spurred David on’, with the footballer improving his track record.
The couple refused to let any vile remarks get in the way of celebrating their love for one another, with the couple tying the knot on July 4, 1999, at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland, with OK! magazine paying £1 million for the photography rights.
David shared clips from his big day in the docu-series, laughing at his decision to make their guests wear black and white while he and Victoria donned garish purple ensembles.
As Gary described the wedding as ‘a spectacle’, David mused: ‘I try to think back to when I decided to wear a purple suit and I don’t know when that happened…
‘I think I just took Victoria’s lead on it but what were we thinking?!’
Having no regrets on her end, Victoria quipped: ‘It was fun!
‘We weren’t worried about what people were going to say. I mean Christ, how lovely to be that way when you just don’t really care you just want to express yourselves’ but she did confess ‘I don’t know where the thrones came from’, while referring to the gold chairs she and David posed on.
Wedding venue: The couple refused to let any vile remarks get in the way of celebrating their love for one another, with the couple tying the knot on July 4, 1999, in Ireland
Behind the scenes: Footage showed David getting ready for his big day while being entertained by his best man and teammate Gary Neville
Dapper: Gary did all he could to keep David at ease as he got ready for the big day
David mused: ‘I try to think back to when I decided to wear a purple suit and I don’t know when that happened… ‘I think I just took Victoria’s lead on it but what were we thinking?!’
Victoria added: ‘We weren’t worried about what people were going to say. I mean Christ, how lovely to be that way when you just don’t really care you just want to express yourselves’
Spice up your life! Everyone was in full party mode for the night’s celebrations
Naughty! Fans were also given a glimpse at his best man Gary Neville’s very rude wedding speech, when he made reference to the Spice Girls’ sex life
Fans were also given a glimpse at his best man Gary Neville’s very rude wedding speech, when he made reference to the Spice Girls’ sex life.
He joked: ‘David said the Spice Girls requested the Bayern Munich team be present today and David was puzzled at this request and asked why.
‘The Spice Girls replied that they’d like to meet any men who could stay on top for 90 minutes and still come second!’
BECKHAM is available to stream on Netflix on October 4 from 8AM.