Beckham may leave Real as children are 'scared' by paparazzi

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The Independent Football

David Beckham last night intimated that he could be driven out of Real Madrid because of paparazzi harassment of his children. It is less than a month since the England captain said he wanted to finish his career at the Spanish club, but two incidents in the last fortnight have made him reconsider.

David Beckham last night intimated that he could be driven out of Real Madrid because of paparazzi harassment of his children. It is less than a month since the England captain said he wanted to finish his career at the Spanish club, but two incidents in the last fortnight have made him reconsider.

"One incident involved Brooklyn,'' said an emotional Beckham. "He was going to football school. I was working, Victoria was looking after Cruz. Paparazzi show up and harass him, they chase him into his football school. This is a six-year-old boy. That is crossing the line. It affected him. He was scared.

"With Romeo, he was going into his nursery and the press were taking pictures of him while he was playing with other kids. I love playing for Real Madrid. It's one of the biggest clubs in the world even though we haven't won anything yet [since Beckham joined in 2003]. I love Spain as a country. I love the fans. They have been incredible to me. But there are things which upset me in Spain. Those incidents have made me sit back and think. I haven't had this anywhere else before, except once in America.

"I believe when my children are going to school or nursery, or football school, they should be left alone and they are not being. They were not even with their parents. It's becoming a big problem.

"I'm at the point where I don't know what to do. Me and Victoria have always accepted we're in the limelight, people are going to want to take pictures of us, it happens wherever I go, the supermarket, a restaurant, anywhere. I have to deal with it because it is my life. We've accepted that. But when it comes to our children being out on their own, or at school, that's crossing the line.''

Beckham, in Manchester for Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Northern Ireland, was asked if he had considered "packing it all in''. "I love my children. I love my wife. I am a professional person and I love my football,'' he said. "If I give in that's giving in to these people, but when it crosses the line like that with my sons I don't know what to do.''

One option would be a move back to England. While the Beckhams still attract intense public and media interest on native soil there is less likelihood of their children being harassed in this manner as the Press Complaints Commission's Code of Practice prohibits publication of photographs of children in such circumstances. Whether Beckham, who is 30 in May, would find a club to buy him is another matter. Sir Alex Ferguson is highly unlikely to re-sign him for Manchester United. Arsenal can afford him, but their style, with its emphasis on pace, would not suit. Beckham has been linked with Chelsea and he could fit into Jose Mourinho's 4-3-3 system, but while he remains highly marketable there is growing evidence that his best years are behind him. Any club outside these three would be a significant drop in status.

From a playing point of view, Beckham said he was very happy in Madrid despite the current turmoil at Real.

"Obviously four managers in two years is different to what I am used to - I had one in 13 years at Manchester United. It does make it difficult to maintain a level of play. But the new manager [Wanderley Luxemburgo] is very good and hopefully we will have him for quite a while.''

It is not, of course, only Beckham who is in the public eye in the current England squad. Wayne Rooney was reminded of the pitfalls of fame when he appeared on several front pages yesterday after an alleged fight in a Manchester club in the early hours of Monday morning.

Neither Sven Goran Eriksson nor anyone else in the England camp seemed too concerned about the incident, in which Rooney is alleged to have punched a member of the public who admitted to taunting him, but Beckham had some general advice.

"There is a spotlight on professional players and if you don't conduct yourself in the right way you look bad and are made to look bad,'' he said. "These days we have to be careful. People try and make money [off your name] and get in the papers. It's important players behave themselves.''

Referring to Rooney in particular, he added: "It's not even been mentioned in the hotel by the manager or players. To judge from Wayne he's not down about it. He's still only 19. He is going to go out with his friends and girlfriend. There are going to be incidents. Wayne has improved since he has been at Manchester United. I see the maturity in him. Even on the pitch he has grown up a lot. I said when he went to Manchester United he was at the right place with the right person looking after him [in Ferguson] and it shows.''

Despite reporting with a sore back Beckham was able to train without problems yesterday, as did the entire squad except Newcastle's Jermaine Jenas who was attending a funeral.

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