I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in the past 15 or so years defending David Beckham.
I’m clearly coming from a different cultural perspective, but can any English people explain to me why there remains the stench of ridicule in your country’s perception of its most famous son? This is a man who rose to the top of his profession when still a teenager and has remained there for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has built a personal British brand that dwarfs – in terms of global familiarity – anything else we have produced. Frogs in swamps in Peru have heard of this geezer. Even the ones that don’t like football.
This is a man who has done nothing but be the embodiment of an attentive, devoted parent while, one betrayal aside, tending to a marriage which year after year defies its – what should be – transitory showbiz status. So is it perhaps because of the way he talks? I cannot count the amount of women who have said to me, through a disappointed sigh: “Beckham is gorgeous… until he opens his mouth.”
He’s hardly Joe Pasquale, but if you are defining him solely due to how his voice sounds, you probably think Stephen Hawking is an American dalek.
Speaking as someone whose Glasgow accent apparently paints me as an aggressive drunk on the beg, I say this: remember, Beckham is about to start a five-month spell playing in Paris and, to French ears, he’ll just sound English. Like Ralph Fiennes.
So expect Paris to fall head-over-heels in love and never let him leave. And the need for genuine heroes in this country is too great for us to just lose them willy-nilly.