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David Beckham: My Side

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He just wanted me to be the best footballer that I could be and to be married to a local girl that wasn't a superstar," he said. I wish there was a pill you could take that could erase some memories," he said. "I made a stupid mistake and it changed my life." There's good stories about how he (awkwardly) began dating Victoria, the sending off in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina, then some death threats and kidnapping plots.

His first team was the Ridgeway Rovers. The owner or CEO or leader of this was Stuart Underwood. "About 76 inches, with a big I loved the game more than anyone has ever loved it," he smiled. "I know it's not true but I think I loved it more than anyone." Stevens learned that Brian Cox, the Scottish actor who played Logan Roy, is friends with Ferguson and used that relationship to get on the good side of the famously irascible football manager. “Brian signed a copy of Fergie’s book which had just come out and I gave it to Sir Alex. That helped get more time with him. And he knew our show. He asked me ‘Why aren’t you going to do a fifth season?’ I told him because it’s over, man.” David's father told him that even though he was in United he'd have to work hard. David practiced with the seniors and realized that he would have to work hard to stay in Machester. Their new coach was Eric, "Even now, a dozenOther members of the footballer’s family offer anecdotes and titbits, from his strict-sounding father, Ted, to his mother, Sandra, who is great value. She says that when the then-England manager Glenn Hoddle questioned her son’s professionalism and left him on the bench, she “just put him on my hitlist”, and she recalls taking revenge on a journalist staying at the same hotel as she was. Victoria, too, is more frank than you might expect. When recalling a particularly explicit chant about her that came from the stands, she says the woman sitting next to her didn’t know what to do, so just turned to her and said, “Do you want a Polo?” David met a lot of new people. Some of them thought he was a show off but later they became friends. "We were all about sixteen, on a tour together People think he’s this beautiful guy, that everything was handed to him. Not true. He worked his way up and he could have been crushed by what happened to him in 1998 – but he wasn’t. He’s one of the strongest people I know.”

One minute he has curtain-shaped hair, as though his angelic face were a stage, the next he has a mohawk that transforms his head into an exclamation mark I was aching," he said. "I was hurting. I'd roll out of the bed in the morning because I was in so much pain." What Stevens didn’t realise when he took the gig was what a diverting cast of characters he had at his disposal. Not just the perma-surly Keane, but French philosopher Eric Cantona and Manc motormouth turned wannabe Labour MP Gary Neville. “I wish I could have made 20 episodes, there’s so much great stuff. I mean, some of those guys. Paul Scholes – what an absolute dude.” That is a sentence I never expected to hear. But it was in 1996 when he announced himself to the football world by scoring from the halfway line against Wimbledon. Soon after his arrival at the Bernabeu, former Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz was appointed head coach.After being signed by Alex Ferguson as a youth team player, moving from London to Manchester, he came through the youth ranks alongside "The Golden Generation" with the likes of: Giggs, Butt, Scholes and the Neville brothers. So how did it come to pass, with all due respect, that a know-nothing American was the right fit to tell the life story of England’s leading twinkle-toed pretty boy? Three reasons. First, Stevens is not just an actor, whose CV includes a notorious and regretted brown face performance in the 1986 film Short Circuit but also regular turns in Wes Anderson movies (most recently as Detective #1 in Asteroid City). He’s also a documentary-maker. His 2009 film about dolphin hunting in Japan, The Cove, won an Oscar. In 2010, he collaborated with DiCaprio on the climate crisis documentary Before the Flood.

Because of the Hollywood writers’ strike, Stevens hasn’t been able to take acting gigs. Not that he hasn’t been busy. He’s beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had two kids with his wife, the film-maker Alexis Bloom whom he married in 2017, and is currently executive producing her upcoming documentary about 60s It Girl Anita Pallenberg. Getting the attention and becoming a celebrity was different to what I wanted," Ferguson said. "Getting David to keep his feet on the ground became more difficult." Wherever I went, I got abused every day,” he said. “To walk down the street and see people look at you a certain way, spit at you, abuse you, come up to your face and say some of the things that they said, that’s difficult. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, I was a mess.” The third reason is most telling. Stevens isn’t just some mug who doesn’t know the beautiful game. Although the Chicago-born Stevens will be a fan of the Cubs (baseball) and Bears (American football) until he dies, he also has something in his wardrobe that marks him out as a soccer stan: a collection of Ivory Coast football shirts. “I went to Stamford Bridge [home of Chelsea FC] and fell in love with Didier Drogba.” What were you doing there? “The first documentary I produced was Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos in 2006. At the time I didn’t know football. Then the producer, John [Battsek], takes me to see Chelsea play and, well, I fell in love. The Real Wagatha Story: Most interesting aspect of new documentary is the woman at the centre of it ]It was the first time that me and Victoria had been put under that kind of pressure in our marriage," he added. He just loved being a footballer

He attributes this to the "family" dynamic at Old Trafford and throughout the documentary calls Ferguson a "father figure". Fame followed, but manager Ferguson had growing concerns about his celebrity lifestyle and his relationship with Spice Girls singer Victoria Adams. I’ve never been through what David and Victoria went through. I tried to put myself in David’s head. I felt at times I was going through what he went through. I wanted the audience to feel what he felt. I hope that comes through.” Hold on. Fergie? But isn’t the former Manchester United manager an avatar of Succession’s Logan Roy? “You’ve got him all wrong,” says Stevens. “I was really scared to meet him. But I came to love the guy.”

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