Beckham: Pop culture icon, football hero, family man

A huge impact on global pop culture. Photos: Netflix

By Wendell Gaa

David Beckham is arguably the greatest football (or soccer as it’s known in the U.S.) athlete to never have won a World Cup trophy.  Of course, that view is subjective and there can be countless arguments how several of his other football peers from other countries could be just as gifted, if not more.  Regardless of what you may think, there is no doubt that he is a pop cultural icon of England and for the sport. 

I personally have not always been a close admirer of the sport of football, at least not until I got hooked into the thrill of watching the game beginning with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Germany took home the top trophy.  Since then, my interest in standout football athletes has steadily grown, including of course David Beckham himself.  Thankfully for people like me who are fascinated to learn more about his life as both an athlete and family man, the sports documentary series “Beckham” is now available for streaming on Netflix. 

As a viewer who never followed his career closely while he was an active player, “Beckham” is a solid, thorough and introspective look into David’s storied life from his upbringing in England and his early training and ascension into the world of football through the support of his parents and peers, to his debut as a professional with the famed Manchester United team back in 1992 at the age of 17. 

With wife Victoria Beckham: Complex yet enduring marriage

For those unfamiliar with his achievements, we learn from this series how his tenure with United was marked with winning the Premier League title six times, and then the Football Association Challenge Club (FA) Cup twice and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League in 1999, before he made an infamous move (especially in the eyes of his fans) to the Real Madrid team of Spain, where he had won the La Liga championship in his final season with them.  Whatever has been said of him by fans and non-fans alike, he holds the record of being the first English player to win league titles in England, Spain, France and the U.S., as well as one of the greatest football midfielders of his generation. 

It was a further revelation learning how David has transcended his sport in ways like how Michael Jordan has transcended basketball and made a huge impact on global pop culture.  Just like Jordan, David has had exposure in Hollywood by way of a small appearance as a prison guard in 2017’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”  His namesake was also the inspiration for the 2002 cult film “Bend It Like Beckham” starring British actresses Parminder Nagra, who would go on to co-star in the long-running hit medical TV series “ER,” and a young Keira Knightley before she would score box office success in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. 

The most eye-grabbing aspect of this series for me is definitely the journey of his relationship with his wife Victoria Caroline Beckham, another British icon known to us as Posh Spice, one of the Spice Girls female music band.  Listening to her interview of what she endured in her marriage to David, while at the same time weathering the multiple tabloids and rumors about her husband and their whole family, even their children, is quite astonishing and sheds new light into the couples’ sometimes complex, yet enduringly strong marriage which has happily lasted for many years to this day, quite a rarity and grand achievement for celebrity couples!

(C) The FilAm 2023

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