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I like this book. In fact I like it immensely. Of course we all think we know all there is about David and Victoria Beckham; surely there is nothing left for us to know? Well, I was interested in finding out what HE thinks about his life and what has gone on recently with his transfer to Real Madrid. This book went out to do this and succeeded. So what does the book tell us that we don’t already know?
My Side starts off with David’s childhood. He tells us how his father played football with him when he was young, and attributes all the skills he has now, with being the ones he learned from his father during knockabouts. However, his father played for a local team called Kingfisher and the whole family had a keen interest in the game. Interestingly enough he tells us the cute story of a child psychologist passing by when his own son, Brooklyn, was balancing on some steps; apparently it is very rare for a child to do this (toes on one step, heels rocking backwards and forwards on the next) and the psychologist claimed he had a very good sense of balance. David has also observed this good sense of balance when playing football with Brooklyn. So is it in the genes?
David then tells us how he progressed playing whenever he could, in the park with bigger local lads, for the local cubs team, and eventually for Ridgeway Rovers, a very successful boys team. David pays tribute to this club, since it behaved in a professional way sending boys to tournaments in the UK and overseas, and making sure they wore a suit and tie when travelling to look the part.
Without telling you everything in this book, the essence of it is that David didn’t just achieve success accidentally. He had talent as a youngster, but had the support of his whole family. If his parents couldn’t afford for him to travel to a tournament, his grandparents would pay! Later on at secondary school, he swam for the school and ran cross-country for the county. So he is quite an athlete, and not just a footballer. Amazingly his secondary school was into rugby and didn’t teach football, but a couple of the boys, David included, lobbied the PE teacher who eventually caved in and started a football team!! We are told then that talent scouts discovered him and he got the chance to sign either for Manchester United or Tottenham Hot Spurs as an apprentice. He always wanted to play for Man U and after seeing how professional they were about taking on young people he didn’t hesitate to sign.
Once at Manchester, he trained with some local lads, the Nevilles and Nicky Butt, who played for a similar schoolboy team to Ridgeway, and had also been taken on by Alex Ferguson. So basically, these boys knew each other from the age of 14 and have played together ever since, no wonder the Manchester United Team are so strong! David tells us of the fun times he had with these boys, and other apprentices, especially David Gardner who he is still friends with but who doesn’t play any more. They seem to have had a whale of a time, but it was not without perseverance and dedication to training.
David’s moment of recognition came when he scored from the half way line at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon in 1996. He immediately became famous; I remember that goal and thought it was fantastic. However, his then girlfriend left him, because she couldn’t stand the media attention. Cue Posh!! At this stage the Spice Girls were famous, and as many a young lad did and still does, he realized he fancied Posh and hoped he could someday meet her. By chance, Posh and Mel C attended a game at Old Trafford and he was introduced to her after the match. I reckon someone must have engineered it, but he doesn’t say so, only that Simon Fuller introduced them to each other. Posh comes into her own, not having a clue about football, and as David says, he could have been on either side and she wouldn’t have known! She left before he could get her phone number, but the next day she was doing a photo shoot at Old Trafford, and he managed to get her number. So he then tells us of how they start dating, fall in love and then get married. The rest is history!
The 1998 world Cup was traumatic for him when he was sent off against Argentina for kicking out at Simeone, and he tells us how he managed to pick himself up over this, with help from friends and family. Eventually he is awarded for his efforts with the England Captaincy under Sven Goran Eriksson. When England faced Argentina in Japan in 2002, David insisted on taking the penalty that gave them the win. At this time as we all remember, the Beckhams were everywhere in the media and remarkably successful as a couple. After that match, Tony Stephens his SFX agent came up to him and said, ’That was unbelievable, David. Who writes your life?’. I have to say that summed up what I was thinking! What a way to seek revenge! He showed no malice, didn’t rise to Simeone’s bait and scored! Perfect!
In the remainder of the book he tells of how the World Cup could have been England’s if they had beaten Brazil, and how he was depressed after this for several months. His game also started to lack a bit of sparkle, and hence he started having problems with Alex Ferguson. He doesn’t know when the rot set in with Alex, only that Alex believed what he heard and read in the papers over certain situations, and hence didn’t trust him anymore. David maintains that he was sold when he was touring the Far East with Victoria, and that before he went, his future was by no means certain and that he had not wanted to leave Man U. Alex had got it into his head that Man U were 3rd in David’s list of priorities next to England and his family, and just could not accept it. It seems a shame that after all the years of training and playing with this club that this should happen, but as David says himself, he is now and adult, a father of two, and not the teenager taken on by Manchester United all those years ago.
Now he is at Real Madrid, as we all know. The book started off with him being welcomed at his new club, and how he felt awestruck just standing in the empty stadium. Strangely, when he was in Japan, one day he woke up in the middle of the night, turned on the TV, and there were Real Madrid winning La Liga! How amazing is that? In the book his last words are, ‘I’m aware I’ve got this huge smile on my face: a boy from Chingford. United born and bred. And going to play for Real Madrid.’
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see David’s side of the story and sad to see how things went sour at Man U. He has achieved success because of talent, hard work and support. He has thanked all the people who made this happen. He comes across as a nice, reliable, friendly person but one who is incredibly focused. He still sees his teenage friends and has a few friendly digs at them. I liked the story of the time he is meeting David Gardner and his wife for lunch at The Ivy in London. The waiting staff are quite curt to ‘this Manc’ as Becks describes him, but as soon as the Gardners explain they are waiting for David and Victoria, the mood changes and they cannot do enough for them! I like the light hearted approach to this book and the fact that David does not really come down too heavily on anybody. Probably because there would be a team of lawyers out there waiting to catch him out, but also because he seems genuinely to get on with most people.
"My Side" David Beckham with Tom Watt, Collins-Willow £18.99
Chuckle... Beckham... hmm.. great review of the book.. well done! Judging from your comments at the end "He comes across as a nice, reliable, friendly person but one who is incredibly focused" then you can certainly say the book does its job in hiding the reality...laugh. David Beckham is an ingenuous person given his behaviour - he clearly has no desire to contest allegations of adultery (and given his litigious nature then we can assume the allegations truthful). David Beckham is an icon of greed and low morality. But as a former football writer, I can sincerely say he is one of the most hyped players of all time and possibly one of the weakest midfielders England has ever utilised in the modern age. What gives us the best denial of Beckham's claims is the story of his life at Real Madrid - he is clearly not dedicated to his football and he is clearly not very good at it. Hence he is currently dropped.. presumably so he can pursue something much more important to him like money and secret affairs.
Otherwise he seems alright..lol..
Terrific review... might just buy the book to convince myself I was right..lol
flickpugh 18.02.2004 19:47
I got this for Christmas but haven't gotten round to reading it yet. Off to watch him play v Portugal now!
ClaireG86 02.01.2004 18:36
I would like to read it, but I wouldnt want to pay all that for it..