Beckham books place in publishing history with his spicy biography

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The Independent Culture

David Beckham's story has been billed as "the publishing event of 2003".

On Saturday, a year after the project was announced, during which time a global launch strategy was planned and a million copies printed, the footballer's fans had their first taste of what he has to say.

Conveniently, the publisher, HarperCollins, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, provided two of his newspapers with the rights toDavid Beckham: My Side. The revelations were spread across the first 12 pages ofThe Sun on Saturday and a similar dozen in the News of the World yesterday.

What is revealed is a tale of two marriages - the off-field romance between Beckham and his wife, Victoria, and the midfielder's union and eventual split with Manchester United and the team's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The autobiography details how Beckham ended up at Real Madrid after Ferguson became convinced that the player's superstar lifestyle was incompatible with the United regime.

One revelation yesterday was Beckham's claim that Ferguson believed the England captain's decision to accept an invitation to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace was a betrayal of his club.

In the book, Beckham also confirms tabloid stories that the United manager refused to play him because he missed a day's training after his son Brooklyn contracted gastroenteritis. When the player arrived at the club the next day, Ferguson summoned him with the words: "Beckham. Here. I want a word.''

According to the News of the World, the footballer was stunned by his manager's attitude. He says: "Suddenly, I'm in the middle of a row in front of the entire first-team squad. I tried to stand my ground but the boss wasn't having any of it." Minutes later, Beckham tried to resolve the dispute but Ferguson was apparently furious at seeing press pictures of Victoria out for the evening.

"You were babysitting while your wife was out gallivanting,'' Ferguson allegedly told the player. Beckham comments: "It was the sneering tone I thought came with it that made me flip. 'Don't talk about my wife like that. How would you feel if I was disrespectful like that about your wife?'''

The newspaper also gave an insight into the Beckhams' romance. He first spotted Victoria in the Spice Girls video for the song "Say You'll Be There". He says: "Posh is wearing this black cat suit and looks like just about the most amazing woman I've ever set eyes on."

The couple met in the VIP room at Chelsea's ground and later had a date in Essex. "I went mad the next day and had roses and a Prada handbag delivered to Victoria at her mum's house,'' he recalls. "It's amazing what you find out in a Smash Hits 'Likes and Dislikes' feature.''