Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Saturday, 22 May 2010 16:13 UK

David Beckham visits British troops in Afghanistan

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Beckham: 'British soldiers are bravest people I have met'

Footballer David Beckham has spoken of his awe for British troops while making a visit to Afghanistan.

The 35-year-old former England captain set out for Helmand - where about 8,000 British troops are based - on Friday.

He told BFBS British Forces News: "These guys are the bravest people that I've ever met and it really is, it truly is, an honour to be here."

The visit came as Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Liam Fox met military leaders in Kabul.

Beckham said: "To see the morale of the troops is really incredible. It first kind of hit me on the way over when we were on the military plane flying in to Afghanistan.

"You can see the faces, you can see obviously they know they are leaving their families, but they're so focussed and they've got this look in their eyes that they're just so confident and just ready.

I've been wanting to come for years
David Beckham

"It's scary, it really is scary, you feel it. Just yesterday one of the troops was killed, and you feel it and you see the flags at half-mast and you feel the tension there.

"These guys are the bravest people that I've ever met and it really is, it truly is, an honour to be here."

He added: "I've been wanting to come for years, but with my playing schedule I've never had the time.

'Amazing'

"But obviously being injured now it's given me the chance to do things I've always wanted to do and never been able to. I'd love to come back."

Asked if he would have considered a military career had he not become a footballer, Beckham said: "Without a doubt... I've represented my country many times on the field, but what these guys do representing our country is really amazing."

Beckham posed for pictures, signed autographs, took part in a question and answer session with troops and visited Camp Bastion's hospital.

He also got a lesson in weapon handling and joined senior officers cooling off in a paddling pool as temperatures in the camp reaching 45C (113F).

During a penalty challenge with troops he scored with his only attempt.

The footballer made his name at Manchester United before going on to play for Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy and AC Milan.

The UK force level in Afghanistan is currently 9,500, but with special forces totals some 10,000.



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