CBC Sports Online's soccer expert, John Molinaro, takes you inside the world of soccer and offers his insights about the action on the pitch and in the front office.
Meeting David Beckham
Thursday, July 24, 2008 | 09:07 AM ET
He walked into the room and I instantly forgot about every nasty word I ever wrote about him.
I just sat there transfixed, staring at him and studying his every move, listening to every word he spoke. He didn’t change my opinion about him as a player, but I have to admit that I walked away with a newfound respect for David Beckham.
Regular readers of this blog know my feelings about Beckham: mainly that he is a one-trick pony, that his skills as a footballer are nowhere near commensurate with the media attention he receives, and that England will never - repeat NEVER! - win the World Cup as long as Beckham is on the team.
Still, when I was offered the chance to meet Beckham on Wednesday - my reward for helping CBC Sports commentator Brenda Irving prepare for her one-on-one TV interview with the former England captain - I took it.
The unspoken understanding being that I put my feelings aside and be cordial and professional (which, of course, was never going to be an issue) and that I wouldn’t be able to ask him any questions (this was Brenda's interview, not mine, so I was okay with that, too).
After shaking hands and quickly exchanging pleasantries with him, I took a chair off-camera and watched Brenda conduct her interview, asking some of the questions I suggested to her.
Before we even get to that, I have to admit I was rather taken aback with the rather casual and laid back way he sauntered into the room. He didn't, as I expected he would, come traipsing in with an entourage, cell phone in hand, decked out in designer shoes with his hair immaculately coiffed.
Instead, he was only accompanied by his agent and was still wearing a sweaty jersey (he had just come from a training session at BMO Field), flip flops and his hair was anything but perfect. For a guy who prides himself on being a style icon, this was not his best moment, but he seemed to be perfectly at ease with himself.
Say what you will about Beckham - and a lot has been made over the years by members of the media (although not by me) that he isn’t the brightest or most articulate guy in the world - he speaks openly and frankly. Never once did he waver or decline to answer a question, or try to skirt the issue.
His passion for the game clearly came through in the interview, as did his passion for the English national team, calling every chance he has had to play for his country "one of the biggest honours that I've ever received."
I admire the sentiment, especially coming from someone who has played for two of the biggest clubs in the world (Manchester United and Real Madrid), but I think Beckham remains delusional about his future with the national team: he is intent on representing England at the World Cup - provided it qualifies - in 2010 when he will be 35.
Players with considerably more skill have retired from the national team by that age, cognizant of the fact that they owe it to their country to step down and give someone younger and better a chance. Sadly, Beckham doesn’t appear ready to go gently into that good night.
How I would have loved to challenge him on this point, but alas, it wasn't my interview.
Nevertheless, I was impressed with the genuineness of the man.
Asked about his plans after retirement, he said he wanted to make up for lost time with his family (he and his wife have three young boys). You could tell from the way he lovingly talked about his wife and kids that he is a devoted family man, and that he hates to be away from them for any length of time.
It was refreshing to meet an athlete who keeps things in perspective. David Beckham is the most famous sports star in the world, but instead of puffing his chest out, he remembers what's most important in this world: his family.
A first-rate footballer? No. A first-rate person? Yes.
This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.
Post a Comment
About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
- Getting behind the Montreal Impact
- Tuesday, September 23, 2008
- Del Piero's wonder-goal was a stunner
- Thursday, September 18, 2008
- World Cup disaster: Canada simply isn't good enough
- Thursday, September 11, 2008
- John Carver confident he'll be back for another season
- Thursday, August 7, 2008
- FIFA should challenge IOC over Olympic call-ups
- Thursday, July 31, 2008
- Subscribe to Planet Soccer
- September 2008 (3)
- August 2008 (1)
- July 2008 (4)
- June 2008 (9)
- May 2008 (4)
- April 2008 (3)
- March 2008 (3)
- February 2008 (4)
- January 2008 (4)
- December 2007 (3)
- November 2007 (4)
- October 2007 (6)
- September 2007 (4)
- August 2007 (3)
- July 2007 (1)
- June 2007 (3)
- May 2007 (2)
- April 2007 (2)
- March 2007 (4)
- February 2007 (3)
- January 2007 (4)
- December 2006 (3)
- November 2006 (5)
- October 2006 (3)