Skip to main content Text Only version of this page
BBC
Home
TV
Radio
Talk
Where I Live
A-Z Index
BBC Sport World Cup 2002

 You are in: Team Pages: England:  
Front Page
Statistics
Team Pages
Features
Other News
Sports Talk
TV/Radio Coverage
Photo Galleries
Venues Guide
Matches Wallchart
World Cup Greats
History
Quiz

BBC Sport

BBC News

BBC Weather


Click on a name for more detailed team information:

Argentina
Belgium
Brazil
Cameroon
China
Costa Rica
Croatia
Denmark
Ecuador
England
France
Germany
Italy
Japan
Mexico
Nigeria
Paraguay
Poland
Portugal
Rep of Ireland
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Tunisia
Turkey
USA
Uruguay

Monday, 17 June, 2002, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
A giant among men
David Beckham salutes the England fan after beating Denmark
Beckham applauds the fans who worship him

separator
space

So who is the most famous man in the world?

The President of the USA George W Bush? Hollywood icon Brad Pitt? Or England captain David Beckham?

Right now, in the middle of the World Cup and with the world having seen him and his team-mates playing in the Premier League for the past nine months, it has to be Beckham.

The startling explosion of flashlights from the crowd as he takes a corner tells you that.

Open Quote
Beckham's fame comes from his extreme talent and his dedication to sustaining it
Close Quote
So do the screaming girls outside the players' Awaji Island hotel with their Beckham look-alike boyfriends.

So do the marketing men, the style gurus, the TV executives and the newspaper and magazine editors.

And yet, as Beckham's celebrity bounces around the stratosphere from satellite to ground-station, the man himself responds with increasing modesty, humility and level-headedness.

This is not the norm. We know that fame at this level can distort and disfigure.

But Beckham has gone from local boy-next-door, to national anti-hero, and back full circle, to international boy-next-door.

An example.

David Beckham celebrates with Michael Owen after the Liverpool striker scored against Denmark
Beckham has been involved in four of England's five goals

The day after England's win against Denmark, he signed an England shirt for the son of a journalist in the England party, the characteristic number "7" woven into the signature.

The journalist himself had appeared a bit sheepish beforehand about his mission.

It was embarrassing perhaps for him, tiresome perhaps for Beckham.

But he emerged triumphant with his prize, charmed by Beckham's gentle co-operation.

Not a big deal you might think. Except that every minute of every day, someone is seeking a piece of David Beckham.

And without fail he will give that 15 seconds if he can with the very best grace.

And a smile.

Open Quote
Beckham proves once again that we like our celebrities, but that we like them best when they're one of us
Close Quote
Ah, that smile! It is lighting up England's news conferences with increasing regularity.

It helps that England are successful and that he has played a part in four of England's five goals so far.

And, that when backs were to the wall in the last 20 minutes against Argentina, he cajoled and bellowed his team through the Argentine onslaught.

Afterwards, when surely some public expression of personal revenge and satisfaction would have been understandable, he played it very straight.

Dignity personified, he is taking his cue from the coach.

He knows the press still seek the sensationalist quote, but he also knows they are now largely onside.

So little by little he is allowing himself to open up, confident that the stale jokes about the pitch of his voice and the extent of his vocabulary are now very 1999.

Family man

And in any case, he is becoming a sound-bite expert.

Family and football - his first loves - were wrapped up in that self-deprecating quote about son Brooklyn.

He watched the Denmark game "but went to a dog-show afterwards and so he's not getting too carried away".

Is there anything left to dislike about David Beckham?

Tattoos of dubious taste maybe. A haircut that even two years from now he might find cringe-making?

A profile shot of David Beckham and his famous lion hair cut
Will Becks regret the lion look?

Maybe - more seriously - we might dislike a man who methodically wrings every last drop from his fame.

Forget the whinge about the tattoos and the hair. That is just my conservative taste kicking in.

The money? Good luck to him.

In any case, Beckham's fame comes from his extreme talent and his dedication to sustaining it.

And that money is not going on booze and drugs.

Beckham proves once again that we like our celebrities, but that we like them best when they are one of us, sharing our best values but somehow vulnerable too.

Except that at this World Cup there is something of an inner strength and self-belief about him.

A reflection of the squad and its ambition maybe?


E-mail this story to a friend
INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
TOP STORIES FROM
FEATURES
 TEAMS
 ENGLAND
Full coverage:
News and
features
Lineker's verdict
Statistics pages
World Cup so far
Have Your Say
 SQUAD PROFILES
 RESULTS/REPORTS

GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

 WATCH/LISTEN
 BBC SPORT BULLETINS
 OUR BEST VIDEO
More Audio/Video




© BBC ^ Back to top

Front Page | Statistics | Team Pages | Features | Other News | Sports Talk | TV/Radio Coverage | Photo Galleries | Venues Guide | Matches Wallchart | World Cup Greats | History | Quiz

BBC Sport >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
BBC World Service >> | BBC Radio Five Live >>
© MMII | News Sources | Privacy