David Beckham: World Class

[Content Note: Reference to violence; videos may autoplay at links.]

So, in case you don't follow British football/soccer, here's some very simplified background to this story: Alex Ferguson is a former footballer and the most successful manager in footballing history, having won 49 trophies. In 1986, he was made manager of the highly popular and successful Manchester United football club, and he managed the team for an extraordinary 26.5 years until 2013. David Beckham was one of the many star footballers who played for Man U during Ferguson's tenure, and he was a star among stars.

Beckham has often said that Ferguson was a father figure to him, and when Becks was sold to Real Madrid in 2003, the two of them had a major falling out, during which Ferguson said some really shitty stuff about Beckham. (This was also shortly after Ferguson had kicked a boot in Becks' face, injuring him.) According to Beckham, the two repaired the falling out earlier this year, but it seems like Ferguson may not totally share that feeling.

Which brings us to this latest story, in which Ferguson said he'd "worked with just four world-class players at Manchester United. ...The Scot nominated Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes as the quartet who were at the very highest level."

All of those players are indeed "world class," whatever that vague and arbitrarily quantified designation means, but Ferguson left off his list some other arguably world class players with whom he's worked, including Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane, and Ruud van Nistelrooy, to name a few—but no omission has raised as many eyebrows as David Beckham's.

Beckham won the Premier League six times at Manchester United, and his skill with a dead-ball is truly unrivaled. (Here's a fun video, if you're interested, about Becks' amazing free kick to defeat Greece in the final moments of a World Cup qualifier.) By pretty much any standard, including the one where you get movies named after you and your finest skill, he's world class on the field.

And he's world class off the field, too:
The omission of Beckham from the list came as a surprise to some, but not the former United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and England star himself.

And Beckham told the BBC the snub did not bother him.

"Not at all," he said. "I played for the greatest manager of all time. I was lucky to play with the players that I did and be successful with the club I love. I tend to agree with the manager because there are certain players that you can call world class and thankfully I played with many of them."
This guy. The best.

It's not just that he's humble about his own skill; it's not just that he has the generosity to compliment Ferguson; it's that he turns the focus back to his teammates, to keep at them at the center of this story.

Becks forever.

And since y'all know I will literally use any excuse to (re)post this video, here one more time is David Beckham surprising fans in a photo booth.

Text Onscreen: adidas presents

Image of a photobooth labeled "Great Britain #takethestage".

Text Onscreen: We invited a bunch of people to take the stage and support Team GB."

Cut to a group of three football fans, two black women and a black man, doing a footie chant while taking pictures in the booth. Suddenly their expressions turn to surprise.

Text Onscreen: We also invited someone else...

Cut to two black young men in the photo booth; David Beckham peeks his head into the booth and they react with shock and delight. Becks laughs.

Cut to a montage of Becks taking pictures and grinning with lots of different groups of people, who are all surprised and grinning. He genuinely looks like he's having fun, throwing his arms around their shoulders and posing for pictures with them in the booth. He hugs people and lets women and men kiss his cheeks. He shakes their hands and says, "Nice to meet ya." With a group of two white men holding props, he is offered a prop microphone. "I've got the rubber duck!" he says, holding up a Union Jacked rubber ducky. He surprised a young white woman and asks, "Can I get in?" She squeals, "Yes!" and waves him into the booth. He hugs a little white boy who is weeping with being overwhelmed. "Should we do some pictures?" Becks asks him.

Cut to people who've had their pictures taken with Becks leaving in an elevator. They are all excited. "Best thing ever!" enthuses a black woman. "That was wonderful!" says a white woman. "Wow," whispers a black man. The little boy wipes his tears.

Text Onscreen: #takethestage / adidas / official sportswear partner of the 2012 London Olympics
Literally every. single. time. I watch this, I cry. I love everything about it, not least of which is David Beckham asking people if he can join them. World class indeed.

[Note: I am not saying that David Beckham is perfect! I am sure he has all kinds of human flaws, like unexamined privilege or forgetting to put his stinky socks in the hamper! I am just saying he's PRETTY GREAT!]

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