By Kristofer Purnell
At the end of a table sits a man whose body is covered in tattoos, just not obvious because of how well dressed he is. He wears a black blazer and slacks, with matching shoes that must have been shined earlier that morning, and a smile that lit up the whole room. One wouldn’t have thought the man had 115 appearances for the England football team—and its captain for a time—and won four different domestic football leagues.
But then again, David Beckham’s life is beyond normal, phenomenal even for those who have been following him since his days at the Manchester United academy. It has been over six years since David last played a professional football game, yet somehow he has been able to maintain his iconic status as a football legend, a global personality, and a family man.
“I don’t know, I think because I have young children, and that I’m young in my mind,” David says at an intimate conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, explaining how he keeps himself relevant. “I try to change things up, I try to be authentic as well—and I think authenticity is a big part of how I’ve lasted this long.” He keeps the same mindset for everything he does, and always for a good reason.
David was in the Philippines for a third visit, this time invited as AIA’s global ambassador to give insights about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle—and a big part of that is his family. “I [think] we all have our own “whys,” but mine [are] my children, my wife, my parents, Victoria’s parents, my sisters, because it’s what we really care about, what I really care about,” says David. “I want to be healthy. I want to live the right lifestyle so I can continue to be a great husband, a great father. And that’s my ‘why.’”
Underneath the jersey
One thing David has mentioned in numerous interviews is how he challenges and pushes himself, something that he continues to today. “I think every day is a challenge, because there’s always something that comes up that pushes you to do something better or to do things right,” the 44-year-old explains. He shares how earlier in the week he spoke to some kids about making mistakes, telling them it’s a good thing because it’s an opportunity to learn from them. “Even as adults, we still make mistakes, but it’s about how you react to those things,” he says. “Challenging myself is something I like to do. My new challenge would probably be not drinking coffee past 1 p.m.”
Like any other person, the former England captain has his own insecurities, and it involves his children—Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz, and Harper. “Since I have children, I’ve been more secure with myself because I think children do that for you,” David explains. “I think you take on their insecurities more than worrying about your own—that’s what happens with children. When you don’t have children, you worry about the things you’re doing. As soon as children come along, you worry about the things they’re doing.”
A secret foodie
Not many people know that David also cooks, mostly for his family at home. Food plays a huge part in the former pro-footballer’s healthy lifestyle. It certainly helps that he loves food and his children love his cooking—or at least he thinks so—which is why he tries cook as healthy as possible for them. Since he does a lot of traveling, David tries to check out the local cuisine because “that’s where the best food is, where the best culture and conversation comes from.”
And his kids’ favorite food? Pasta. “Their favorite food I would say is Italian, so I try to make healthy pastas as often as possible,” says David, acknowledging that even children should have a diet that balances their love for to chocolates and crisps. He himself loves a good pasta, if not a nice cup of coffee. “It’s all about balance for them and making them understand ‘it’s a lot better for you, you’re going to get a lot more from this rather than a bar of chocolate.’”
Apart from pasta and coffee, David’s guilty pleasure is ramen, which coincidentally was the first thing he ate when arrived in the Philippines for this particular visit. But there was a dish that caught his eye, or rather his tongue. “I must admit that for breakfast, I had my one coffee and these amazing mangoes—and the mangoes here are unbelievable!” David exclaims, tapping the table. “I had a packet of dried mangoes and fresh slices, both were incredible. For me, the mangoes are something that I love here.”
Words to live by
One thing David has brought with him from his childhood is hard work. “My parents taught me that,” he says. “My parents were hardworking people and, luckily, they passed it on to me. It’s the one thing I hope to pass on to my children.” He knows that it doesn’t always happen, but he’s still hopeful that his kids will have his dedication and drive.
An advice he gives to fellow parents is to let children “do whatever they wish to do, because everybody has their dreams.” Of course it’s a parent’s job to stay on top of his kids and to teach them the right manners, to let them know that life has its boundaries. “None of my children at the moment want to be footballers, and that’s okay,” David says. “Because you don’t want to force anybody into doing anything, it’s not what should happen.”
But he adds that, if any of his kids choose to pursue football like him, he promises the support of everything he and Victoria can give to them. “We’ve always supported our kids in everything they want to do, but obviously we can guide in a way where it’s very supportive,” he says.
Though retired from professional football, David is still very much involved in the world of sports. Next year, his own club (Inter Miami) will make its league debut in the US, which has taken six and a half years in the making. “It will be an emotional moment, it will be a proud moment, because I know what I’ve been through to get to this point,” David happily says.
Although his club will be based in Miami, he admits that his heart will always be with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he played from 2007 to 2013, as well as other teams he’s played for. “As much as I like what LAFC (Galaxy’s local rivals) are doing, my heart will be with Galaxy no matter what, likewise with Paris St. Germain, AC Milan, Manchester United, or Real Madrid. That’s just who I am,” David says.
Obviously enamored with football, going as far as calling it “the number one sport in the world,” David is one with Filipinos as an avid basketball fan. Having played in Los Angeles for six years, he has no doubts about which among the teams in the City of Angels he supports. “Lakers!” he says, smiling. “I do like the Clippers, but I’m a Lakers fan without a doubt.” He adds that he was lucky to have been in LA through the Kobe years, when the latter won back-to-back championships for the Lakers. He is also more hopeful with LeBron being there now.
But whether its football, basketball, tennis, or hockey, David acknowledges the importance of sports in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It is team building,” he says. “It helps encourage people. It makes them feel good while playing.”