England football icon David Beckham labelled the historical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the sport as a ‘disgrace’ in an insightful interview on BBC Radio on Sunday.
He was unequivocal in his condemnation of the sex abuse dating back to the 1970’s and 80’s that has emerged since former Crewe Alexandra youth player Andy Woodward went public last November.
Beckham was part of a legendary Manchester United youth team which included future stars like Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers Gary and Phil.
“There was never anything like that,” said the 41-year-old, capped 115 times and captain of his country on 59 occasions.
“It is disgraceful and something has to be done.
“The closest we ever came to that was when certain professionals in the senior team would make us do a funny dance in front of our heroes at the time.
“It was humiliation but that was just to teach us a lesson.
“I would like to think clubs are all on board with this and the FA (Football Association) are doing all they can and the more these ex professionals express their opinions there will be more done.”
Beckham was appearing as the guest on the 75th anniversary edition of the renowned ‘Desert Island Discs’ programme.
– England caps –
The invitee is allowed to choose eight records and to take to the mythical desert island a copy of The Bible, the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and is allowed a book of their choice as well as a special object.
Beckham said he would take his England caps to the island, a less controversial choice than late great American writer Norman Mailer who opted for marijuana.
Beckham said he keeps his caps at home but his medals are in a bank in safekeeping as they are for his children and has over 1000 pairs of football boots in storage.
His selection of music was eclectic.
But there might be words at home as not one of them was by his wife Victoria’s former band ‘The Spice Girls’.
The one record he said he would take to the desert island would be Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’.
“We used to get to my grandparents at 8 on a Saturday morning and I would sit in my grand dad’s chair,” said Beckham.
“He was stern but loving and used to work nights and get up at 11 in the morning.
“I would always be watching Football Focus (BBC programme on a Saturday) and he”d say ‘out’ (of the chair) whether it was me or my sisters and do the same with my children.
“The thing I always remember is Ella Fitzgerald’s song would always be playing in his flat.”
Beckham also chose Spanish song ‘No es no Lismo’ by Alejandro Sanz as he used to go to a Spanish bar on his own to eat ham and drink beer so he could learn the language.
He told the BBC that his initial stages of dating Victoria were carefully orchestrated by her manager Simon Fuller.
“He was very protective and he kind of wanted to keep it quiet,” said Beckham, who has gone on to have four children with Victoria.
– Purple top hat –
“I used to drive down to see her and we used to sit in the car park (of a local restaurant) and talk.
“I had an amazing bright blue BMW, I had spent all my adidas contract money on it and was still living in lodgings.
“So we used to sit in the car park, we would kiss of course and talk.”
Beckham, who said he refused to watch United matches for three years following their decision to sell him to Real Madrid which took him unawares as he was on holiday in the United States, joked about the extravagance of his wedding to Victoria in 1999.
“We have renewed our vows since and it was a lot quieter with only six people there,” he said.
“I even had a top hat in purple at the wedding. What was I thinking!”
Beckham, who signed his first contract with United aged 14 after he had sparkled aged 10 and 11 at the Bobby Charlton school in Manchester, said his marriage to Victoria had had its bad times but they remained deeply in love.
“We are a strong family unit because our parents brought us up with the right values,” he said.
“Of course we make mistakes, it’s difficult but you work through it.
“People have said because we’re a brand we stay together but it’s not, it is because we love each other and we have four amazing children.
“We are very respectful of our lives when we have tough times we work through it.”