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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Who's better than Beckham?
In footballing terms, you understand. Not that you cared that much, even if you liked The Beautiful Game.
But when the older Manchester United players were given their marching orders and the young, new group took to the field to be pummelled into mental and physical shape by Alex Ferguson, among them was David Beckham.
Cute, you began to think if you watched football. Cute, you began to notice even if you didn't watch football - because suddenly there he'd be on the news, you didn't even have to wait until the sport.
Beckham could be seen passing the most perfectly placed shot from 50 yards down the field or kicking a ball that curved, bent, seemingly defied all aerodynamic logic and somehow - you never understood how - ended up in the back of the net.
And the camera would pan into a wonderfully athletic young, strong body, and then on to the beautiful face and shy smile of a young god.
Who knows when the mousy haired boy became an irresistible streaked blond with floppy hair? ( Footballers' hair had been permed, crimped, pony tailed, gussied up since the Seventies. Kevin Keegan's perm was famous if not fashionable.)
But here was Beckham, good-looking enough to be a woman's dream, a gay man's sexual fantasy, a teenage idol. And he had the footballing brain and talent to make hard men weep.
When he fell in love and finally married Posh Spice, the prettiest - and best dressed - Spice Girl, a nation sighed.
David and Victoria became the most photographed, talked about, envied, copied, derided, famous power couple in the land.
What was obvious to even the most cynical observer was that they were really in love. Young, gifted, successful and in love.
Of course we couldn't get enough of them.
Even when we heard Beckham's high pitched girly voice gushing about baby Brooklyn, even when the floppy blonde hair became a terse shaved head, it didn't stop him being, well, fashionable.
Winning is very fashionable. Being hugely successful is always in style.
Victoria Beckham, like many women before her, having got her man, decided to dress him. Or, let's say, influence him; encourage him.
She was working with the most perfect material in the land. He had the body and face of the most gorgeous male model.
Because Beckham was happy and in love, he trusted Victoria's taste and enthusiasm for clothes. He was "up for it". Up for fashion.
We had to admit it made a change from men in suits or men in boring trousers. He looked great, he stood out.
When he started wearing expensive diamond watches and jewellery and diamond earrings sparkled near the beautiful face did you think "the man's a fop, a fool"?
Thoroughly modern man
No, you thought, that's David Beckham, who scored an away goal from 50 yards three minutes before time who also happens to look divine in jewellery.
Did the different clothes, hairstyles, jewellery, make him less "masculine"? (99.9% of British men live in fear of being less masculine.)
No, it merely meant that the fashion pack began to join forces with the football followers - and worship him.
Fashion magazines jostled with the celebrity magazines and the sports sections for pictures of Beckham.
Even though Fashion and Football are two mighty religions, perhaps the reason why Beckham is so worshipped and so fashionable is - he's a modern man.
He sets modern trends. We like the trends he sets. Other men are beginning to think if Beckham does it it's okay for them.
Being faithful to your wife and openly adoring her and your child, not thinking life is booze and night clubs - hey, that's a fashion we approve of.
Beckham is so 21st Century. So this week it's nail polish, a different hair do, more diamonds, another tattoo.
Maybe he did wear Victoria's thong. Did it affect his passing?
He carries a bag, he wears pretty pants, he puts a turban on his head. He could be an Armani model striding down the catwalk - on him everything looks good. He's as daring with fashion as he is on the football field.
If he offered his modelling services to Armani, Giorgio would be as thrilled to have him as the manager of Real Madrid.
He makes a leg brace and sleeping in a tent seem like the smart option. This week he says he's "an animal in bed".
That's never gone out of fashion. No wonder Marie Claire (fashion, sex and relationships) and GQ (fashion, blokes and sex) can't wait to grab him.
As a dedicated follower of fashion, I feel the same way too.
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