Arguably the most recognised sportsman in the world, ever, David Beckham, at 28, has weathered several lifetimes' worth of speculation, rumours, adoration and insults--and now he claims to be setting the record straight.
Beckham has been at the heart of some of the biggest stories in British football for a decade or more, and it's all here including: kung-fu Cantona; scoring from the halfway line; that Champions League Final; 1998 World Cup disgrace; 2002 World Cup glory; feuding with Fergie and the boot in the face; right through to entering the pantheon at Real Madrid in 2003.
My Side fairly roars along from one headline-grabbing incident to another. Of course Beckham's passion for his game, and the challenges of preparation and performance, is the driving force behind the narrative, but we are rarely allowed to lose sight of the celebrity bubble in which ol' Golden Balls exists, as one half of Britain's other Royal family. At which point a souring note of reality must be introduced into this tell-it-like-it-was memoir.
The problem is that we know Beckham so well. He is well established as a charming, courteous interviewee, for whom an inevitable and growing PR savvy has tightened his tongue, though not dimmed a natural warmth and enthusiasm, but he's equally well known to be, (how to put it?), not great with words. The bald fact is that, in public at least, Beckham has never uttered a single sentence half as vivid or coherent as those in My Side the voice with which we are all so familiar is entirely absent.
Good thing too perhaps--400-odd pages full of "er" and "kinda like" would grate--but the polish that collaborator Tom Watts applies does lend this first-person narrative an air or unreality that some readers will find hard to disperse.
That said, the result is a fluid, readable and hugely entertaining stroll through an extraordinary life, with a genuine sense of intimacy, a generous spread of colour photos, and some intelligent things to say about football and celebrity, despite the reservations about diluting the Beckham "essence". --Alex Hankin
Courtesy of Amazon
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