David Beckham Netflix documentary

Beckham: What we can expect to learn from Netflix’s portrait of a global icon

You may think you’ve got a firm grip on the David Beckham story, but you don’t know half of it. Here’s what to expect from Netflix’s latest sports documentary.

David Beckham is a British icon, adorning the attributes that categorize him as the quintessential modern-day man—and rightly so.

Adored by millions outside his homeland, this cultural phenomenon goes beyond Beckham’s roots as a sporting legend, branching into fashion, TV, film, pop culture, media and…fragrances.

There’s not much Beckham hasn’t dipped his no doubt manicured toes in—from delivering dead balls for the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid to owning a soccer franchise in the shape of Inter Miami.

In between, he dabbled with his own fashion ranges, was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and signed a contract with the producer of the popular computer game FIFA  which, according to press reports, was worth more than €350 million. He’s also donned billboards for the likes of Tudor Watches, Adidas, and Pepsi.

Yes, David Beckham’s CV is a LinkedIn recruiter’s wet dream.

It’s fair, then, that he gets his own documentary, long overdue. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Steven Gerrard have all had their lives documented in the typical modern-day storytelling methods used by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, so why not Becks?

Nicolas Anelka, Antoine Griezmann, and Peter Crouch have their own showpiece. Beckham has more star power in his pinky finger (although Crouch holds his own due to his likeability factor).

Set for release on the streaming platform Netflix on Wednesday, 4th October, the aptly titled ‘BECKHAM’ will peel back the curtain on the man for all seasons: a global superstar so famous that his differing hairstyles create headline news.

We all think we know David Beckham. We all remember his budding relationship with former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham (who features heavily in the doc), his infamous kick-out in the 1998 World Cup, and his turn as a Galactico before transforming the landscape of soccer across the states with LA Galaxy.

We’ve gushed over his wardrobe (just me?) and his ability to pull off any combination of outfits. We admired his relationship with Victoria after so many years under the media microscope and followed his social media channels, which now surpass the 100 million mark.

But what do we REALLY know about David Beckham?

Very few have had the opportunity to truly understand the person behind the name—until now—with the release of ‘BECKHAM’ set to provide a previously impossible insight into the life and times of Goldenballs himself.

Directed by the acclaimed Fisher Stevens, who’s best known for his work on ‘Palmer,’ ‘And We Go Green,’ plus the groundbreaking documentary ‘The Cove,’ the Netflix documentary gains unprecedented access into Beckham’s life. 

But, what can we expect to learn?

Who will feature in ‘BECKHAM’

David Beckham, of course. MLS club Inter Miami’s current owner will obviously be the series’ centerpiece. Still, he’s joined by a roster of familiar faces from his close circle and professional career in sport, business, and life.

Viewers will no doubt gain a unique perspective on the legendary athlete with interviews with key figures who have been part of his remarkable journey—none more so than Beckham’s wife, Victoria Beckham, as well as his close friend and former Manchester United teammate, Gary Neville.

In addition to these personal connections, the series showcases discussions with prominent footballing figures who’ve played a significant role in Beckham’s soccer career. These include the mysteriously iconic Frenchman Eric Cantona, his long-time manager Sir Alex Ferguson, plus fellow teammates Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, and Roy Keane.

The documentary delves further into Beckham’s world by featuring interviews with unexpected people who’ve been integral to his life, like Mel C (aka Sporty Spice) from the renowned girl group, Spice Girls.

There’s also screentime for the likes of Diego Simeone (whom he kicked out in the 1998 red card incident against Argentina), Carlos Queiroz, Luís Figo, Míchel Salgado, Florentino Pérez, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo Nazário, and Fabio Capello. That’s one hell of a seven-a-side team.

David Beckham’s parents—David and Sandra—relatively unknown in the tale, give their perspective, which helps paint a fuller picture of the man behind the name.

Quite the cast.

Beginnings of Beckham

The first shot of the trailer for ‘BECKHAM’—following a short prelude—is of a young Beckham grinning ear to ear in his kitchen, dribbling a football while wearing a complete soccer kit.

I never really did well at school because all I ever wanted to do was play football,” declares Beckham. 

Everyone has roots, and his were forged in Leytonstone, an area in East London where he was raised by his parents, kitchen fitter David Edward Beckham and hairdresser Sandra West.

If I told him how good he was, then we’ve got nothing to work at” is one of the few lines we get from his father within the trailer, showing that we’re likely to get an insight into his development, and mindset, as a young aspiring footballer.

Old Trafford football stadium

It’s well documented that his parents would travel all the way from London to watch Manchester United at Old Trafford, sparking Beckham’s love for the team he would go on to support. But less is known about his time spent playing for his local youth team called the Ridgeway Rovers—and later Brimsdown Rovers.

On his 14th birthday, Beckham put pen to paper and signed schoolboy forms with Manchester United, a dream come true, but we hope to discover what it took to get to that moment.

The sacrifices, the long trips, the countless hours on muddy pitches, both from Beckham and his parents’ perspective.

Getting spicy with Victoria

Such is the meteoric fame of both David and Victoria; the surname Beckham has become a bonafide brand.

Victoria Beckham is frequently seen during the trailer, making it clear she will play a significant role throughout the film’s narrative. No surprise, given she’s been there every step of the way during her husband’s global domination.

In a recent teaser, Victoria refuted claims she stalked her now-husband before the pair met, instead revealing the couple met at a charity football match in 1997, the details of which are set to be shared for the first time.

Victoria says she knew David was the one because she claims to have stalked her future husband before having even met him, saying, “The fact I went to the games really was to, some might say, ‘stalk’ him. I would say ‘see’ him.”

In a 2016 interview with British Vogue, Victoria recalled their first encounter in the Manchester United player’s lounge as a member of the wildly successful girl band, The Spice Girls.

The documentary is set to go into further detail about how they both experienced love at first sight, met in car parks to avoid the press, and evolved into THE power couple of the decade.

A visibly emotional Victoria is also set to get deep about the ‘circus’ around her family and what it’s like to be mobbed by paparazzi at every turn and around every corner.

A pillar of abuse and ‘bootgate’

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Becks. Life rarely is. But in the late 1990s, David Beckham became a figure of abuse and hatred amongst English soccer fans and the press.

One night in Saint-Étienne changed the trajectory of Beckham’s soccer career and his personal life. A self-declared “moment of madness” saw him kick out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone, leading to a straight red card.

Beckham football match

England would go on to lose on penalties, and there was only one man to blame.

During the following 1998-99 season, David Beckham was subjected to a barrage of boos and jeers from fans of opposing clubs, weekly. The abuse was a relentless wave of hostility that reached alarming levels when some fans went as far as burning an effigy of Beckham and issuing death threats.

Beckham has been outspoken on the incident, telling pal Gary Neville, “Every game that season, apart from every time we played at Old Trafford, was horrendous. I got abused on every talk show, everywhere I went, every time I put petrol in the car.”

There will undoubtedly be some highly emotional scenes during the documentary series as Beckham opens up about the struggles and hardships he unfairly encountered because of one mistake.

It took a toll on me that I never even knew myself,” says Beckham in one of the trailer’s somber moments.

Another notable moment during Beckham’s career was the incident dubbed ‘bootgate’, a scandal from 2003 where Becks was struck in the face by a boot kicked by Ferguson in a fit of rage following an FA Cup defeat at the hands of Arsenal.

During the trailer, Beckham admits to “going at” Ferguson after the boot left him with a cut that required stitches. Juicy.

Redemption and fame

Beckham’s ultimate appeal and allure has been his ability to bounce back and overcome where so many would fall.

Four years after his red card against Argentina, he netted the winner against the same opponent in the 2002 World Cup to help England win 1-0. 

Beckham regained his reputation as one of the world’s best players with a move to Real Madrid, and he began to build a broader portfolio away from the pitch.

Beckham says, “I don’t give up easily.” We can’t wait to see his mindset and how he emerged from dark periods to become the man he is today. Ferguson points to “something inside of him, a determination,” but the trailer only gives us a snippet of Beckham’s never-say-die outlook.

Then there’s the contrast between his professional career and worldwide fame, which Ferguson says changed his then-midfielder, although it’s clear Beckham has a different opinion. 

Sponsorship deals rolled in, press shoots and appearances were daily occurrences, and magazine covers were plastered with his face: Esquire, GQ, Attitude, Hello… the list goes on.

How did David Beckham cope with the vast public demand suddenly thrust upon him, and how did everyone around him react and adapt?

The documentary is set to answer this and many more questions about the life of the man we all wish we looked like, David Beckham.

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