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Beckham?s book is like his game

Beckham, at the moment, is the world?s most talked-about player and the biggest-selling product in the world soccer arena.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2003 15:32 IST

David Beckham: My Side
With Tom Watt
HarperCollins
Price: £ 12.50

To George Best, David Beckham is a footballer who has a poor tackle, an ordinary head and an ineffective left leg. “The rest is OK,” Best once said about him. To many other experts, Beckham is a mechanical footballer and has nothing to offer except swinging centres and free-kicks.

Yet, despite all criticism about his inability to mould himself into a ‘complete footballer’, Beckham, at the moment, is the world’s most talked-about player and the biggest-selling product in the world soccer arena. At 27, he has become a legend for his centres and free-kicks, though there are times when he would do little else in a 90-minute encounter. A couple of defence splitting passes and deadly free-kicks would be enough to prove his class.

Beckham’s autobiography, My Side, is no different: like his footballing, he is subdued and unattractive for most of the 400-odd-page book, but gives such a sparkling performance in the last four chapters that it becomes a book worth reading.

In real life, Beckham’s biggest quality is his ability to remain a down-to-earth person, a footballer who makes it a point to stay out of the politics of the game and a devoted family man. But in the book, he consciously breaks out of that image and talks freely about his highly-publicised marriage with Spice Girl Victoria, his marching orders in the 1998 World Cup, his turbulent relationship with his one-time godfather and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and his eventual transfer to Real Madrid. It makes fascinating reading at times.

While Beckham has both accepted the blame and defended himself for the nasty foul on Argentine captain Diego Simeone that threw England out of the 1998 World Cup, he is at his best in the last two chapters.

Here he talks extensively about how shabbily he was treated by Ferguson during his last days with Manchester United; how Ferguson almost interfered with his personal life and benched him in crucial matches for reasons completely unacceptable. Beckham also narrates the infamous ‘boot incident’ in the Arsenal match: after a furious Ferguson kicked a boot towards him in the dressing room, he admittedly even ‘went’ for the boss. This particular chapter is highly provocative, perhaps more than his goal-bearing centres. Will Ferguson too come out with a My Side to counter the allegations?

Beckham doesn’t just criticise Ferguson. Early in the book, he widely acknowledges the manager, whom he describes mostly as ‘boss’, for making him a footballer and as one of the finest coaches.

Predictably, Beckham has a lot to say on Victoria and how she shaped his life. His wife and children dominate the pictorial section, the added attraction of the book. Full of relevant information on contemporary football and footballers, it is a book worth reading, if not buying.

First Published: Nov 28, 2003 12:12 IST