It's official. David Beckham is God.
The beautiful thing about football –sport in general - is that there’s always the chance of redemption. David Beckham was publicly vilified – effigies of him were burnt on Guy Fawkes Night, for God’s sake –following one stupid mistake (when he kicked out at Diego Simeone after being fouled in a knock-out match four years ago and got sent off, effectively wrecking England’s chances – we eventually lost in a penalty shootout), and nearly left the country as a result of it. Lesser men would have crumbled. But not Beckham. Blessed with a truly sublime talent and the drive and responsibility to use it, his career has turned full circle.
I am writing, of course, in the aftermath of the England-Argentina match at World Cup 2002, in which Beckham scored the winning goal. He didn’t play particularly well – Rio Ferdinand and Nicky Butt were the heroes that day – but the point is what he symbolized. He had the chance, with one kick of the ball (from a penalty) to either redeem himself or make England’s world cave in. He had the guts to go for it and he bloody scored. It wasn’t even a very good penalty. That’s not the point. He bloody scored it, and in that one moment you could see years of guilt lift from his shoulders. It was a truly magical moment.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, either. I won’t stand for people taking the piss out of him: it’s true he’s a bear of relatively little brain, but so what? Did we laugh at Albert Einstein for being shit at football? Of course we didn’t. Much better to truly excel at one thing than be mediocre in many: all those pathetic snide columnists who have laughed at him for years are far less brainy than he is good at football. And he’s good-natured and great with fans and an obviously loving husband and dad and he truly understands the meaning of responsibility: a rare thing.
The other thing I love about him and Posh Spice is their total lack of self-consciousness. They’ve made it and they don’t give a shit what people think of them. They want to have enormous silly thrones at their wedding: they have them. They want to rename their Hertfordshire mansion Beckingham Palace: they do it. They’ve succeeded and they won’t pussyfoot around being half-hearted about it. Who could blame them?
He’s the closest thing our age will produce to a hero. His performance against Greece, when he more or less single-handedly earned England a place in the World Cup Finals, was a monument of desire and passion and skill and sheer bloody-minded refusal to give up. He’s the man, and he should be Prime Minister. (Well, maybe not.)