David Beckham Ensured Children Meeting Their Hero Were Never Disappointed


David Beckham Ensured Children Meeting Their Hero Were Never Disappointed

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In January 1997, the fervent crowd surrounding the BMW gave the impression of a pop band’s arrival. During the Britpop era, David Beckham was a one-man sensation.

This was a time when Beckham hadn’t yet met Victoria Adams in the Old Trafford players’ lounge; however, he was already a superstar. As the Manchester United No.10 and a regular for England, his boy-next-door charm and audacious long-distance goals had captivated fans. In Beckham’s own words, one kick of a football “kicked open the door to the rest of my life.” He was the epitome of the Brylcreem Boy, and before Victoria came into the picture, he was often spotted in the company of an Italian model.

On a memorable day in 1997, Beckham arrived fashionably late at Old Trafford with his father, Ted, seated beside him. Despite being injured for the FA Cup fourth round tie against Wimbledon, Beckham donned a stylish Calvin Klein cap. Even before he parked, he was recognized by fans. As he approached the Stretford End car park, a father began bowing in homage to Beckham, much to Ted’s amusement. I, as a starstruck eight-year-old at the time, was part of the overwhelmingly excited crowd that greeted Beckham. I even worried, albeit briefly, that he wouldn’t sign my autograph book. Turning to my parents, I expressed my concern.

Beckham, who was 21 then, heard my plea and kindly said, “Don’t worry, mate,” while patting me on the head. I still cherish that autograph.

Numerous others have their own heartwarming stories of encounters with Beckham. In 1999, at Selhurst Park, a teenage girl was brought to tears by a fleeting glance at a suited Beckham arriving with the United team. In a Mothercare store, Beckham once sought advice on children’s cutlery for his eldest, Brooklyn, and took a lady’s recommendation to choose a Winnie the Pooh set.

What did he say to you?” the girl at the checkout asked the lady.

David Beckham!” His disguise had been slightly more effective that day. On another occasion, a friend ran into Beckham in a Clinton Cards store at the Arndale. Accompanied by two relatives from Malta, fervent United supporters, they requested a picture, and Beckham graciously obliged. Months later, when my friend attended Beckham’s book signing at WH Smith, she showed him the picture. “Ah, I remember that!” he said, genuinely.

When Beckham was just 19, a child and her mother approached him at The Cliff, when United fans were allowed access to the club’s training ground. “You won’t know who I am,” Beckham said bashfully to the mother.

“Oh, I do,” she replied. “You’re David Beckham. My daughter can’t stop talking about you.” Young United fans were already familiar with the members of the Class of ’92, thanks to the club magazine and the ‘Glory Glory Man United’ publication. Rob McCaffrey’s contributions to United’s monthly videos also gave academy players early exposure. The youthful charm that endeared Beckham to thousands of kids in the ’90s remains evident in his contemporary conversations for his Netflix docuseries.

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The series includes footage of Beckham’s ‘unveiling’ by Brylcreem in 1997. For young United or Beckham enthusiasts of that era, a Brylcreem pack featuring a mug with Beckham posing in the England kit was one of the most coveted Christmas gifts. It’s likely that thousands of girls also asked for the gift just for the Beckham mug.

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Despite becoming a globally recognized figure, often subjected to PR scrutiny, Beckham has retained his ‘people’s person’ quality. While cynicism may occasionally surface, the working-class values instilled by his parents, Ted and Sandra, continue to form the core of his ‘brand.



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