This appeared a few weeks ago in The Week.... I forgot to post it! Sorry!!
Better than the original David…
Sigh! The era is officially over. And football’s Adonis has walked off the field and into the sunset after shedding tears in public yet again! Oh David! Football will never be the same again! At least not for millions of swooning female fans who pretended to be interested in watching a bunch of sweaty, hunky men kicking a defenseless ball around, only to ogle Mr. Perfection - David Beckham. Nobody will ever be able to either bend it like him or end it like him. Beckham became so much more than an ace sportsman during the course of his 20 year career. By the time he made that sensible decision to retire, he was already a mega legend and perhaps the most recognized living sportsman in history. It no longer mattered whether his footwork was shaky or faulty. At least for his women admirers, Beckham’s magic extended well beyond his on- field achievements. Beckham had become the personification of the idealized man – a startlingly good looking one at that. Seen as a loving and loyal husband ( let’s make an allowance for the odd Roos chapter) , a hands on devoted dad, Beckham lived the much envied life of an enormously successful athlete, adored globally and worshiped by advertisers who fell over backwards to sign him up for the juiciest endorsement deals going. And this enduring love affair with Beckham continued years after younger, hotter and better footballers came into the picture. So, what was it about Brand Beckham that captured so many hearts – male and female?
I can only make a case for him as a woman. There is something heartbreakingly vulnerable about the man. Given the unapologetically macho posturing and positioning of his chosen game, Beckham’s off-duty persona projected an entirely different image. He was comfortingly androgynous without ever appearing wimpy. He looked perfectly in tune with his feminine side, minus any self consciousness or strain. As a father of four, Beckham’s admirable commitment to his family life added a lot to his aura. When his posh wife Victoria talked about David dropping off the kids to school every morning, we believed her. He just looked like that sort of a father. Pictures of the couple cuddling Harper, their new born daughter, were so incredibly, heart warming, that young mums across the world must have fought with their husbands for not being as involved as David. The actual grouse being entirely different, of course (“Why the hell aren’t you as gorgeous…?”).
David Beckham became the most objectified poster boy of sports twenty years ago. And women in droves lusted after him. Yet, it was guilt-free lusting, because Beckham never pandered to the playboy image of football players. It’s impossible that he was not aware of his powerful hold over fans’ collective fantasy. But unlike some of the other sex symbols in the business ( Christian Ronaldo comes to mind), Beckham retained his dignity, even while posing in suggestive underwear that caused traffic jams in cities across the world. This lovely and very disarming quality, will remain with him, even as he repositions his brand and confronts new realities, post-retirement. Chances are he will seamlessly shift into other high profile roles , possibly as a goodwill ambassador. If he does do that, he will win still more admirers and continue to generate positive press coverage. Beckham’s biggest strength has been his extraordinary ability to stay ordinary. Given his wealth and fame, this is an attribute that has disarmed his worst critics. Today, Beckham is indeed in a league of his own. Most of our cricketers would do well to take a leaf out of his book. God knows some of our high flying boys are in desperate need of a reality check (given the recent IPL spot fixing scandal). Beckham is much bigger than any of them . Why, he is even bigger than the game he excelled in during his prime. His greatness was not in the number of goals he scored. It was in the humility that he consistently displayed. Testosterone and modesty don’t always go together. But boy! When they do – you get a David Beckham. What a babe! Even Michelangelo couldn’t have found a better model to immortalize.