Beckham hack hell
Or David Beckscum as he was known after his sending off in France ’98 for petulantly kicking Argentina’s Diego Simeone. Our hopes of progressing in the tournament followed him down the tunnel.
At the tender age of 12, as a Liverpool supporter and a fervent believer (long since subsided) in England’s impending international success, I hated David Beckham at that moment.
Filled with preadolescent fury, I was anticipating the schadenfreude of Beckham’s demise with unholy glee. I couldn’t wait for opposition fans (and even Manchester United supporters) to stick the proverbial boot into him on his return to club football, expecting his career to fade off as he disappeared into the football hinterlands in abject shame.
At that time, I never expected that one day I would like him.
But, from that nadir, Beckham, somehow, painstakingly restored his reputation. His 2002 freekick against Greece to send us through qualifying to the finals of the World Cup was redemption at its finest. From England’s pariah, to England’s saviour and all the clichés in between.
The commentator at the time actually said ‘give that man a knighthood’.
And since then, Beckham’s reputation has gone from strength to strength. In conjunction with wife Victoria and now his sons coming forth into the limelight, ‘Brand Beckham’ has seen David’s fame and wealth sky rocket.
Despite an affair in 2004 causing a bit of a blip, he’s somehow managed to stay almost squeaky clean. He’s frequently portrayed as an all-round good guy, doing tireless charity work and playing doting dad to perfection.
And I genuinely like him, which, if not the biggest accolade, would certainly amaze my 12-year-old self.
But now a crack has appeared in the façade over the past week or so.
The news has been awash with the contents of David Beckham’s leaked/hacked private emails that seem to portray him in a much less saintly light.
Supposedly, he’s been kicking off in his emails about not having received a knighthood, branding the honours committee ‘c***s’.
The tone and language used in the emails is a far cry from the image he’s carefully projected to the world.
The content also reveals him to be not quite as selfless – demanding charities pay for his flights and refusing to dip into his own pocket for charitable causes.
Some in the media have leapt on this with malicious delight, going to town trying to trash Brand Beckham.
Tabloids obviously love a scandal, but there seems to be a real free for all in some quarters as if they’ve been waiting for this moment for years.
It’s hard to see how much this will affect David Beckham in the long run though. The fact remains he has done a lot for charity over the years and he did brilliantly as an Olympic ambassador in 2012.
His emails were also private. In truth, they could have uncovered a lot worse in the circumstances, so a rant about not getting a knighthood and asking someone to pay for his travel are probably comparatively minor things.
So while his reputation is having a good kicking in the media at present, it remains to be seen what damage has actually been done. Although I’m sure he can kiss goodbye to a knighthood – for the foreseeable future at least.
All in all though, it’s pretty terrible PR for David Beckham given his high profile.
The halo, if not quite slipped, certainly burns less bright.