Thursday, October 9, 2008

KICKING IT WITH BECKHAM

I couldn't possibly care less about soccer--or as they call it here in Argentina, fútbol. And Lord knows, I never thought I'd live in a place where anybody else did. But strangely enough, my three favorite countries (of all the ones I've visited--and loved--before), England, Italy and Argentina, are all mad about the sport. I recently went to a bar in Buenos Aires on a Friday night, anticipating a few hours of fun, and when I walked in, lo and behold, not only was the place practically empty, but among the small group gathered, all eyes were glued to the television set. The big attraction: a live championship match featuring Boca Juniors, Argentina's national fútbol team.

It was all I could do not to go home, pack my bags, head to the airport and get a one-way ticket out of here. I resisted the urge and waited it out. Eventually, the game ended (I still don't have a clue who won), the regular Friday night crowd arrived (apparently, unlike pub-crawling Brits, the average porteño prefers to enjoy a match from the comfort of home), and normalcy was restored to my world.

A few days later, I was looking through my old files and came across the transcript of an interview I did with British soccer star David Beckham way back in May of 2004 when he and his wife, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, were making a bid for crossover U.S. stardom. At the time I was a senior editor at Us Weekly magazine, and we did a huge photo shoot with the two of them together. Unfortunately, the dynamic duo, who, in person, seemed to be completely sincere in their devotion, never quite took flight in the U.S. as they had hoped, and my interview never ran in the magazine.

Too bad. Rereading my interview with Beckham after four years, I thought it better than I did at the time. Maybe my standards were higher back then. Or maybe my two years at Us Weekly had conditioned me to deem unsuccessful any interview that didn't produce some salacious revelation. Below I've posted an edited version of my Q&A with Beckham. Judge for yourself.

JEREMY: You are one of the world's most popular sports figures, famous even among people, like me, who don’t care about soccer. How does that make you feel?
DAVID
: It's great to be loved by people who support me and support football. It’s a great honor in itself. But to be loved outside of football by people who don’t even support football is an amazing honor.

J: What did you think of having the film Bend It Like Beckham named for you? You weren't even in it!
D
: It was pretty cool, actually. I think the film went well in England and Europe, but for a film like that to come over to America and do what it did is pretty cool. And it helped me coming over to America because people were hearing things about Beckham, and they were probably like, "Who in the hell is Beckham?" All of a sudden they saw a picture of me, and that helped my profile. I’d love to be recognized in America for being a great sports star, because in America people are just so patriotic about their country, and I love America.

J: Both you and your wife, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, are celebrities. Does all the scrutiny affect your marriage?
D
: We have quite a lot of pressure, honestly, as a couple. But I think having two children, having children around, takes all the pressure away. You know you can have the worst day at work, and then you come home and see your sons smiling. There are pressures on us as a couple, but we’ve had that since we first started going out. So we’ve gotten used to it, and we have a way of working through it by looking out for each other.

J: What are some of the challenges of being famous and married with children?
D
: There are certain situations that have gone on in our lives since we got married and also since we’ve had children, and we have had to change our lifestyle for [those] situations. But you have to try and have as normal a life as possible--not just for us but for our children. We want them to have as normal a life as possible. It's gonna be hard, but they’re the important ones.

J: How did becoming a husband and a father changed you?
D
: I think that’s what changed me totally, as a human being, really. It's one of the most amazing things--becoming a father--and it changes everything in your life. Your responsibilities change, and you don’t worry about the things that you worried about before you had children.

J: What initially attracted you to your wife?
D
: Her legs. She was in the Spice Girls when I first saw her, and she used to wear these mini-skirts, and everyone used to say, "Who’s your favorite Spice Girl?" I would say, "The one with the bob, the one with the legs." And that was my answer, because she had these amazing legs.

J: But she never smiled!
D
: People used to say, "Why doesn’t she smile?" And you know, that’s the whole Spice Girls thing. You had Baby and Ginger and Scary and Sporty and the Posh pout. It was a look that was known throughout the world. It didn’t bother me if she didn't smile. There was a sort of mysterious way about her.

J: You are the rare male fashion icon. Where did you develop your sense of style? Have you always had it?
D
: I’ve always liked to dress different, even when I was a boy, I wanted to wear something different, even though my mom turned 'round to me and said, "You might have people laugh at you." And I was like, "Well, no, I like this, and I want to wear it." So I’ve always wanted to wear different things. It’s great for me to be told that I’m a fashion icon.

J: Do you have any kind of a workout or fitness routine?
D
: I go to practice nearly every day, so I go in the gym every now and again, but it's not a religion to me. I don’t go in there everyday....Nobody likes to workout.

J: Do you avoid eating certain foods?
D
: No, not really. I’m one of the lucky people that can eat most things and get away with it and not put on weight.

J: Do you ever worry about being off your game?
D
: You always have your doubts. But you know, I’m quite shy off the pitch, but when I’m on the pitch, I’m a confident person, and it can sort of change my personality.

J: What else do you want to accomplish both personally and professionally?
D
: To have a healthy life with my family, and professionally, I’d like to carry on playing as much football as possible and win as many trophies and accolades as possible. Maybe one day have soccer schools all around the world, and, you know, be recognized in America. That’s one place where not many soccer stars get noticed.
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