I was lucky enough to be invited to join a global video conference interview with David Beckham, and here’s the transcript of the interview which I’ve painstakingly typed out for your enjoyment.
The interview was set up by Yahoo!, for whom Beckham is a global sports ambassador, using a super cool video conferencing technology called TelePresence, which kinda makes you feel like your just sitting across the table from the people on the other side of the screen.
Anyway, a total of 19 countries, across five continents, joined in the 90 minute interview, with each country getting to ask Beckham one or two questions.
I tried my best to include everything without including everything, because it was a really long interview, and I’m not sure if you people want the whole thing or just the best bits. There’s quite a bit more. If you want it, just leave a comment and I’ll add everything else in.
The session was conducted by host Gabby Logan. Enjoy.
South Korea: Did you see any of South Korea’s games at the World Cup, and if so, who was most distinguished player?
They’re so passionate. There’s not one player I’d like to pick out as an individual, because I think the Korean strength has always been like the Germans – they play as a team, as a unit. The unity is exceptional. It’s great to watch.
Host: Were you surprised with Diego Forlan at Uruguay?
I’m a big fan of Diego’s. When he came to Manchester United, Sir Alex turned around to me and said: “Watch him. He’s going to score with right foot, left foot. He’s one of the best finishers you’ll ever see”. And we saw that in Manchester United, with the goals he scored, the pace that he had. Especially now that he’s at Atletico Madrid, he’s been playing exceptionally well for the last few years. Didn’t surprise me at all, and congratulations to him for winning the best player of the tournament.
Taiwan: We know you visited British troops in Afghanistan before the World Cup. How did that inspire you?
Hi to everybody there (Taiwan). I think that’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my career – in my life, to be honest. It was really life-changing to be able to go somewhere like Afghanistan where so many people are giving their lives to make a difference. We’re so proud of that. Throughout my career, I’ve been training every day, playing for many, many years; and over the years I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but never been able to. So to get the chance to go and see them, spend time with them, eat breakfast, lunch, dinner with them…
Host: What’s the food like?
The food is great (laughs)! Proper bacon, sausage and beans for breakfast, chicken curry for lunch… But no, to see the people doing so much for our country over there, it’s exceptional. It took my breath away.
I think when I first arrived, I kind of really realised what was going on over there. You get to see stuff on the TV, the bad parts more than anything, but when you’re there you see the hard work and what they actually do day in day out.
When I arrived there it was 54 degrees. That was me in a pair of trousers and a vest. They wear full armour and they’re carrying their weapons, and it really amazes you what they’re doing out there. Their families must be so proud, my family are proud of me, what must heir families feel, they must be so proud.
I travelled over with 140 of the troops on a military airplane, which was an unbelievable experience as well. Half an hour before you land, they warn you – you have to put your body armour on, put your helmet on, they dim the lights and you can feel the plane circling to land… It’s just an amazing experience. But to see 140 troops going out there, and the majority of them are kids, 19, 20 years old, going out there to fight for our country. That really hit me straight away.
Host: Your boys must have been proud of you…
Brooklyn said straight away he wanted to come with me, but obviously he is far too young to do something like that. Victoria was obviously a bit worried. I was on the base, so you’re kind of as safe as you can be. I’ve shown the boys the pictures. I think they were more interested in the guard dogs, the ones that go in to sniff out the bombs. They saw a video of me being chased by a dog in a fat suit, and the dog jumped up on me. I think they adored that moment.
Hong Kong: Who would you say is the best player you’ve played with?
I get asked questions like that all the time, who’s the best player I played with or played against. The best player I’ve played with – god, there’s quite a few – the one I gelled with most was probably Gary Neville, we played together for many years, we were best friends, he was best man at my wedding, and er, we just had a great relationship.
We grew up playing together at Manchester United, I was there from the age of 13, 14, and I knew Gary then, so we kind of played in the same team from youth level, to the reserve level, to the first team and then we played for England together. So we understood each other, and there was the odd occassion where we got angry at each other and we shouted at each other.
I remember once I pulled out of a tackle against Liverpool – and Gary’s got kind of a good relationship with Liverpool fans – so, he kind of made me realise what I’d done wong. But Gary, relationship wise, on and off the field, was the best.
Best player I’ve played with, erm, Roberto Carlos, Zidane, Ronaldo, Cantona… Just to name a few. They are players that are the best in the world. The best was Zidane, without a doubt.
Host: We get used to seeing you in the UK but what about when you arrive at an airport where there are hundreds of thousands of people? What do you think about the hysteria?
It amazes me, because I kind of never see myself like that. So to have that reaction, to have people literally stand in front of me and cry… Sometimes you don’t know what to do, you kind of just hug them…
Host: Now you know how to get a hug from David Beckham, you just put on the water works…
(Laughs) But when I go to the Far East it really is the most amazing scenes. I remember during the World Cup in 2002 (in South Korea and Japan), I had a different hair cut. I had the Mohican with the blond stripe through it, and I remember seeing mothers carrying their two-year-olds who had the same haircut… That kind of thing makes me laugh…
India: What was the most difficult moment in your life and how did you overcome it?
Recently, before about 6 months ago, I always said it was my red card sending off, and it still is, I must admit. That was one of my toughest times in my career, I was only 21 years old. It was more my parents and my family. My family were affected by it, so that without a doubt was one of my worst times of my career and my life. Because my career, people were saying I should go play abroad, or maybe I shouldn’t play for England anymore. And on the life side, I was getting death threats, my mum and dad’s phone was tapped…
Host: Did you have any doubts, want to give up?
The funny thing was, throughout all of that, I never did, because I always knew the only place I could get away from that was on the field. That’s where I always felt, and still feel, the most safe. Because I know that on there, I’m really confident, I’m confident in my own ability, without being arrogant or big headed.
Host: How long did it take for life to get back to normality?
When I was given the England captaincy, that’s when things changed. Because the public perception, the fans, the England fans started caring, and wanting me in the team and I think that moment, that’s when the turning point came.
That was a pretty tough time, I must admit. But recently, the injury. I’ve not had any bad injuries in my career, apart from this one. I’ve had broke ribs, broken foot and a broken arm, but apart from that, I’ve been really lucky. So this is first real injury I’ve had to deal with. It’s been tough but probably tougher for my wife because when I’m not playing football I’m a different animal, I get very frustrated. But I’ve been able to spend time with my children and wife which has been good.
Host: We saw you kicking a ball in South Africa…
Yeah, I got told off for that (smiles sheepishly)… The surgeon gave me a schedule which I kind of put in the cupboard straightaway, and was like, you know, I feel I know what to do. I’ve got a week now before it’s four month when I’m allowed to do some running, but I’ve been running for 10 days now… I’m ahead of schedule. It’s going well, I should be back in a month and a half, two months.
Malaysia: Having spent time with the England squad on the sidelines, do you see yourself going in to football management yourself?
I was honored to be involved in the set-up of the English team, Fabio Capello literally rang me up about an hour after I got my injury and said no matter what, we want you there as part of the squad and part of the team. I was honored by that because he’s a manager that as everyone knows, is not about too many feelings. If he believes you’re good for the team, and good to be around the team… I was honoured by that… What was the question? [everyone laughs] Oh yeah, the manager part…
Host: You wore the managerial suit well and I wondered if this was a rehearsal for the future…
You know, I’ve got no interest in being a manager. It’s something I’ve never been interested in, and it’s never been a passion of mine to manage a football team. I’m passionate about the game and because I was wearing the suit people automatically thought I was in to that.
Host: James Milner said you coached him a bit…
I’d have done that if I was playing. Obviously I’m an experienced player, I’ve been in three World Cups. I spoke to James, I spoke to Shaun (Wright-Phillips), I spoke to Aaron (Lennon)… All the right-sided players, and to be honest, to all of them. I said anything that needed to be said, whether it’s from the manager, or the players to the manager. That was kind of my role.
So I enjoyed that part. Coaching-wise, I love coaching kids, which is why I have my academies, because children, I love seeing their faces when they kick a ball around, I love the enthusiasm, the honesty. That’s one of the things I love doing. But coaching a team and being manager, at this point in my career I don’t want to do that, and in the future, I don’t that will happen either.
Host: You’ve worked with many great managers. What have you learnt from them?
They’re definitely all different. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been able to work with some of the best mangers in football. Sir Alex Ferguson to me is the best manager ever in football. I’ve been honoured to be brought up under him. He was like a father figure to me from the age of 11 when I first met him, and he scared the hell out of me.
He used to take me into the changing rooms so I could meet the players. Steve Bruce has done interviews since, saying it was really weird because there was this young kid from London always coming into our changing room after the games! But he looked after me that way, right up till the time I left when I was 27. I’ve been lucky enough to have been successful with one of the best managers in the world.
Host: So why didn’t it work for Fabio at this World Cup when the team were so good in the qualifiers? did something change in South Africa?
Nothing changed, he did everything he could – he prepared us right, he worked the players, he set everything up for the players. But the players know it was disappointing we didn’t perform, and as players we know that.
You know when you don’t perform, and a manager can only do so much, then it’s down to the players. When the players go on the pitch they know if they don’t perform you don’t win games. The players are honest about that. You win as a team and you lose as a team. You have to enjoy the good sides and learn from the bad sides, and this team will do that.
Singapore: Describe your perfect final game as a professional.
(It would be) in Brazil, for England in 2014, in the world cup final – I’ll be 39 [smiles ironically as the interviewers laugh] – I’ll set one up then score the winner in the last minute. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Australia: As high profile professionals, how do you and Victoria juggle parenthood with everything else?
Our priority is the children. We respect our careers and love what they’ve given us and the countries we’ve been able to see but the children are our priority whether I’m playing for England at one side of world and Victoria’s at the other. We always make sure one of us is with the boys. It’s very important to us.
Host: But how do you do it?! You always look so good coming out of those airplanes! I know I never look like that when I get off a flight…
[Laughs] No, that’s my wife, that’s not me. I’m lucky, I just stick a hat on! But obviously, we have a schedule and we make sure everything is around the kids’ schooling, their breaks, things I have to do, things she has to do. It’s been tough as I was in Milan playing for the last few years… But then I got injured and we went on holiday for 4 weeks which I haven’t been able to do in 15 years.
Host: Do you have date nights?
Of course we do… I think that’s always important, whether it’s going for a drive in the car, or going down to the pub…
Host: That’s your date?! Driving around in a car?
Sometimes, yeah… When we lived in Manchester we used to just jump in the car and drive to London, sit in one of the parks and just chat. I think it’s important to do that. As much as you have to spend time with the kids, you have to make time for each other.
Singapore: I read somewhere that Snoop Dog said you review his albums before he releases them. Is this true and, can you elaborate on your friendship with him?
I heard this the other day, and yea, it’s true. Since I’ve moved to LA we’ve become friends, funnily enough. He’s a big sports fan and a big football fan. He supports Man Utd of course. He spends a lot of time in Brazil so he loves the Brazilian team.
He called me before the album came out and he said he just finished the album, just this minute, why don’t you drive down to the studio and listen to it. So I drove over and listened to each track. He asked my opinion and I was like: “[Shrugs] I love every one of them”.
Host: Would you have really said it (if you didn’t like them)?
No, because he’s got these two bodyguards who are huge [smiles]! Probably wouldn’t have told him. It’s weird, that we have struck up that friendship. But he’s obviously a very talented guy, and a great guy as well.
There was one time, and this is a funny story, we went out for dinner in a steak restaurant, he was eating all these ribs, and things like that. So we’re sat there, and the restaurant was cleared, and this waitress just came up and said: “You know, I can sing”. So Snoop sat back in his chair and said, “Go on then, sing for me.” So she literally stood there, the waitress, and sang a whole song for Snoop, it really made me laugh…
Host: Was she any good?
She was alright…
Indonesia: Which are your favourite tattoos, which are your favourites and do you have plans for anymore?
Host: Do you have room for any more?
I definitely have room for more. I’ve always said that I’ll stick to my arms and back. My wife doesn’t really want to touch my chest… I mean, she wants to touch my chest! But she doesn’t want me to get tattoos there… [Everyone laughs]
I’m a big fan of tattos. Every one has a meaning, there’s not one that I hadn’t really thought about. My advice to people who ask me about tattoos is don’t just go in and pick one randomly and have it done when you’re drunk! Each one has a meaning to me. My favourites are probably my boys’ names on my back, and Victoria’s name on my arm. Maybe I’ll have more in the future, but my mum will probably kill me…
Host: What ages can your boys have one?
When I came home from the World Cup, my youngest literally had tattoos all over his arms, but thankfully they weren’t real! And Romeo said: “I’m going to have mummy and daddy on my arm”. I’m not sure mum will like that too much!
Philippines: If you weren’t a professional footballer, what other sport would you play professionally?
I’d have to say… basketball player for the Lakers. I was a fan of basketball before I moved to LA, but I’ve been able to go to all the games now, unfortunately I’ve missed the playoffs for the last two years because I’ve been in Milan and South Africa. But it’d have to be basketball player. It’s such an exciting sport. exhilarating to watch.
We have a hoop in the garden – the kids love playing basketball. One of the boys at some point might go into it, especially Romeo, he’s very good and very accurate. I nearly broke my thumb the other day trying to dunk it! But the boys really love it.
Philippines: Can you pick 3 things you can’t live without?
Can I pick four? Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo & Cruz
Host: Fabio said the players need a break, that they play too much football…
That’s been a topic for a number of years now. Me playing in Spain for four years, I saw the benefit when you have that winter break. You come back fresh. But the thing is in England, it’s a traditional thing to have games on Boxing Day so will be difficult to change.
Host: Do you think our players were tired?
People say – how can they be tired? They play same amount of games as other countries but without a break, and that’s the big thing. I think the break would be important. And you have people saying “oh these players earn so much money they don’t need a break”. But if you look at it, Germany had a good world cup, and Spain obviously had an amazing world cup.
Brazil: Would you favour the use of technology by FIFA to aid referees?
I knew I’d be asked this [laughs]! First of all, hello to everyone in Brazil, love the Brazilian team and players, been able to play with some of the best, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka… Now I’ll answer the question. It has to be looked into, Sepp Blatter is a respected man but the goal was clearly in the net by a metre … maybe two. It will definitely be looked into. We’ve already seen it work in sports like tennis.
Host: Would you have a problem playing in a game that was stopped to look at a video replay?
No, because I’m 35 and I’d appreciate that little bit of a rest! But no, I think there’s a possiblity of that happening. Of course it’s down to the FIFA president. I’ve met him and he’s a great man, a man of honour, and he’ll decide what will be best.
Host: Do you see yourself staying in LA?
I can! Because my children are in school there. They’re happy there, they’ve been there for three years now, so without a doubt, we’ll be there for a long time.
Host: What do you miss the most about the UK?
Pie and mash. I grew up in the East of London, so I love pie and mash, and I miss English pubs and my family. But I love the weather in LA, get to wake up in the morning and take the boys to school in my shorts and t-shirts – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Canada: If you weren’t a footballer, or not involved in sports at all, what career would you choose?
Hmmm… I don’t know, I love drawing, I love drawing cartoons… Actually, I love building Lego too…
Host: I’m not sure that’s a career…
I actually love building Lego with my sons! I know this is going to make me sound really weird – when I was in Milan, I had a lot of time on my hands and I found online that there’s a Taj Mahal Lego set you can, buy so I bought it, and built it, when I was in Milan. I didn’t get to finish it though. I know it’s not a career, but I love doing it… My boys are the same, they’re obsessed with it.
Mexico: How did you meet Victoria, and how did you make her fall in love with you?
Host: Yeah, how did you MAKE her fall in love…
Our manager Simon Fuller is a huge Manchester United fan and he also managed the Spice Girls. Mel C is a Liverpool fan, so it was a bit awkward… He brought Mel and Victoria to a game in London, against Chelsea, and I scored a goal. Then I went in and heard that Victoria was there, and the Spice Girls were huge, and I really liked Posh Spice at the time.
So I went in to the lounge to say hello, and I was kind of shy, so I said hi to Simon Fuller, and waved to Victoria from the other side of the room. Then I got on to the bus and I thought, damn, I missed my chance. I was pretty sure.
And then the week after, she turned up at Old Trafford to watch another game, and then I kind of thought she was stalking me… The funny thing was, when I was away on an England trip, I was watching a Spice Girls video on TV, and I said: “See that girl there? I’m going to marry her, the one in the short, black skirt… The one who does all the pointing and all the pouting.”
Again, back to Old Trafford, she was in the players’ lounge, and we started talking, she’d had a bit to drink and then she gave me her numbers, so, I kind of made her fall in love with me by giving her a bit more wine! We kept it quiet for about 3 months. I used to drive down to London to see her, and we used to talk all the time on the phone, whenever we had the chance. Eleven years of marriage on and three beautiful boys later, I think it’s worked.
The first 3 months were great, keeping it quiet wasn’t easy, I wasn’t as well known as her and having Posh Spice in your car is difficult! We had our first kiss in a pub near my mum’s, at a car park, and I showed it to my boys the other day.
Facebook question: What was going through your mind in the 93rd minute against Greece when taking that free kick in 2001?
I must admit, that was one of greatest moments of my career. We all knew how much it meant to the country. If we won that game, we were going to the World Cup. At that moment, must admit, I was tired, we’d done a lot of running in the game, and I’d taken about 11 free kicks and missed all of them.
Teddy Sherringham took the ball and said he was going to take it but I took it back and said I had a good feeling about this one. Teddy is a very intelligent football player and stood in the wall right in the spot where I needed him. He blocked the keeper’s view which enabled me to whip the ball over and hit the corner of the net.
That was one of first games I cried it as it was so emotional and draining, I really get goosebumps every time I watch it. I could see the directors box and people were jumping up and down, and I knew my mum and dad were in the box that day. They said everyone in the box were just crying, and it just shows how much results affect people.