David Beckham: “I suffered from depression, but I didn't say it. »

February 07, 2024 / Jerome Goulon

He is one of the most famous faces in the world, a man who changed football. But how well do we really know David Beckham? While a new documentary on his life is currently available on Netflix, the star looks back on his career, his highs, his lows, his family, his marriage and his new occupations. With all simplicity and humility... 

With the Netflix documentary dedicated to you, you saw your life pass before your eyes. Were you happy with the result?
David Beckham: I needed a second opinion. Victoria and I have been together for 26 years, and I trust her opinion more than anyone else's. Watching the documentary, we said to ourselves: “Oh my God, we have really done a lot in our lives!” » 

With ups and downs...
Yes, we had a real roller coaster! 

You make a lovely couple…
Yes, we are really cute together! (Laughs) 

Is it true that filming was delayed because your hair was too short?
(Laughs) Yes, I was still fed up with my hair, so I cut it. We had to wait for them to grow back to film…

In any case, there is something that hasn't changed since the end of your career, it's your physique. Are you talking?
Yes. Now I do bodybuilding. I don't do much running anymore, even though I love it...

Many footballers gain a lot of weight after their career. This is not really your case...
Yes, weight is very important at my age, I know that. And I'm in better shape lifting weights every day than going for a run, it's pretty funny...

Speaking of physics, tell us about your new tattoo…
I had the word “Posh” (his wife’s nickname, Editor’s note) tattooed on the middle finger of my left hand. My son, Cruz, gave me the idea because he had “Posh” tattooed on his arm. And then I said to myself: “But why have I never done that? »

You have built a real empire. After being a player, you are now a business manager and you own the Miami football club. Retirement is not for you...
Yes. I knew I had to pursue something else right after I retired from playing, and I did. That’s why I jumped to Miami! I've always been like that, I like to move on straight away.

Did you already think about owning a football club when you were a player?
In fact, I have always done things instinctively, without thinking too much. A few years ago, I said to myself: “In 10 years, I will have my own football club and I will sign Lionel Messi!” » And there it is, it's done. Luckily, all the decisions I made when I was younger worked out.

You had a sense of business very early on. And the “Beckham” brand is very powerful…
Honestly, I didn't think I was smart. (Laughs)  I was just myself… I never thought of myself as a brand. Besides, I don't like the expression "Beckham brand". 

And you don't really like talking about yourself...
Not necessarily. Throughout my career, I have always had the habit of never complaining or ever justifying myself in relation to what people said about me.

And how did you manage the 14 hours of interviews for the Netflix documentary?
Every week, I looked at my schedule to find out when I was going to be interviewed. And when I saw: “Interview with Fisher (the director, Editor’s note.) : 5 hours”, I then said to myself: “Uuggghhh”! (Laughs) It was not a simple exercise for me. 

I imagine that one of your strongest memories is this incredible goal scored from midfield with Manchester against Wimbledon, in 1996. That day, you are 21 years old, no one knows you, and this goal totally goes change your life...
Yes. I didn't know it at the time, but that goal was the start of everything: people's attention, media coverage, fame. When my foot hit that ball, it opened the door to the rest of my life...

You were adored by an entire country, but you were also the most hated Englishman, after your red card received in the round of 1998 of the XNUMX World Cup, against Argentina...
Yes, it was hard. So much so that I suffered from depression, but I didn't say it.

And why did you keep that to yourself?
Telling others that I suffered from depression was inconceivable to me. I was raised by a father who, if I said, “Dad, I'm feeling a little down today,” he would say, “Boy keep going!” » But I was depressed. I didn't eat, I didn't sleep. I lived day by day thinking about what would come next. The English said I had to leave the country. It was hard.

And you've never considered going to therapy?
No, although it's a good idea. Nowadays, we hear more and more about sports stars going to therapy, and we see how much it helps them. But I grew up in the East End of London. If I had told my father, “I need therapy,” he would have said, “Why? » So I put my head down and worked even harder.

In the end, you reconciled with the public. Many star footballers fall back into anonymity after their career, but that's not your case... 
I have always acted with the long term in mind, my longevity. I never said to myself, when signing a contract: “I'm taking a big check, thank you goodbye. » I am also lucky to have good people around me to help and advise me, starting with my wife Victoria. She's always been protective and I like to think she always will be...

Are there things you regret?
No, never anything...

And what would you have to say, for example, to those who have criticized you for having taken millions to be ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar, a country criticized by some...
I always do a lot of research on the partners I do business with. And I wanted to go to another World Cup. I love seeing the game grow, and that means I love seeing football go into territories it's never been before. My philosophy has always been that you shouldn't exclude people, because if you don't engage and give people a chance, then the world doesn't change. For me, engaging in this process is more important than ignoring it.

And did you understand the anger of some people?
Of course. By signing this partnership, I knew there would be questions and criticism, but I always believed that football was an extremely powerful tool to move the lines. I knew that once the World Cup started, everyone would be looking at how people were treated... I spent a month there, and no one came to me and said, "Oh my God , I was treated like that, oh my God, I wasn’t allowed in that place…” I was nearby. I spoke to people on the ground, including from the LGBTQ+ community, and I was happy with my decision.

Despite your talent and your career, you have sometimes doubted, whether about your football, your marriage, your business...
There have been doubts over the years. But I'm stubborn. I like to prove people wrong, without being too arrogant. 

With all the money you have, you could take it easy... 
My parents continued to work even when I became rich. So I will continue to work...

It may seem surprising, but you are passionate about honey, and you even own 18 hives…
Yes. I am capable of giving a 45-minute speech on honey. I love that ! I also love, on weekends in the countryside, putting a good piece of lamb on the barbecue, or a good fish for Victoria, and just sitting down...

Doesn't aging scare you?
A lot of people say it's not great getting old. So it's true, some aspects of old age aren't great, but it doesn't bother me. I still hurt when I get up in the morning. Since I stopped my career, I have back pain, my hip hurts, my Achilles heel hurts... But that's how it is. And if I ever have to go bald, I don't care!

We're not there yet...
I am aging gracefully! (Laughs)

In July 2024, you will celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary with Victoria. What are your tips for such longevity?
When I think back, my wife chose me from a Panini football album, and I chose her while watching TV. Marriage is hard work, there has always been a give and take, especially since we are always so busy. We have four kids who are always going in different directions, but the most important thing is to always prioritize time together. This is what we have always done, and it seems to work!

Where do you see yourself in 30 years?
Oh my God, I don't know! I hope we will have grandchildren by then. Maybe they can tell me the story of “Beckham the Grandfather.” » (Laughs)

Do you want to be a grandfather?
I like this idea. I told Victoria, “You know, at some point you’re going to be a grandmother.” She replied: “Don’t talk to me about that!” » And there, in my head, I said to myself: “We are getting old now…”