An over-the-top launch for Beckham's underwear

Former England captain brings London's Regent Street to a standstill as his range of pants makes debut at H&M

For a man so often seen modelling pants David Beckham was noticeably shy at the launch of his own range of underwear yesterday. Hundreds of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of "Goldenballs", as the footballer is known to his wife, had to make do with posters and nine-foot-tall silver statues.

Beckham swept through the crowds into the H&M store on Regent Street, London, wearing a cream cardigan and blue jeans. It was not clear if the pants underneath bore the name of his new range, David Beckham, nor if he was wearing a pair of his own long johns to guard against the bitter cold.

Putting his name to pants was perhaps a logical step for Beckham, the footballer, model and now hosier. His wife has put her name to an award-winning label and almost sold out of her second line when it launched earlier this week.

In a simple colour palette of grey, black and white, the nine no-frills cotton designs (which also include pyjama bottoms and vests) have a classic, sporty feel but there's none of the hi-tech fabric that Beckham will be more used to wearing in his day job.

David has high ambitions for his brand. "I've been around for 36 years, I've seen my fair share of underwear," he said at a press conference. "I'd love to be as big as Calvin Klein."

The clamouring crowds that have become a familiar sight outside H&M on launch days were replaced by 300 people queuing patiently to get their hands on Beckham's underwear before today's global launch.

Instead of eccentrically dressed fans of fashion, yesterday's casual customers were bundled up with hats and scarves. Fans of the footballer outranked underwear aficionados, and Beckham's sex appeal ensured there were just as many women as men queuing to meet him. Stephanie Staunton, 23, a nail technician, admitted to a Beckham obsession. "He looks so good in the campaign pictures," she said from her place in the queue. "I'm obsessed with their fragrances and anything with him in it. I just want to see a glimpse of him."

Matt Adams, 23, a graphic designer, and Leah Hummerston, 23, a fashion PR assistant, both professed their love for the star. "He's a massive celebrity and incredibly talented but seems humble with it", said Matt. "He's not just a successful businessman, he's a brand. I'd still buy H&M anyway because it's reasonably priced." Leah added: "It's more tongue-in-cheek than serious."

After meeting Beckham, the two showed off their haul. Matt admitted buying "much more than I should have." Leah bought herself a pair of long johns and a pair of briefs (£9.99) for her dad, Dave, which Beckham signed. "He's a legend of his time," she said, "like George Best. We've grown up with him as a footballer and a family man."

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