Netflix's latest documentary following the career of football ace David Beckham, got writer Rachel Allcock thinking about Jesus.
Maybe all you’ve seen of the number one Netflix series are hilarious take-offs of the "Be honest" clip (Cassandra Maria has three such reels @casseville). In the first episode, Victoria tries to convince the interviewer that she was "very working class". David puts his head around the door and interrupts her repeating: "Be honest!"
I didn’t think I’d invest much more in this series, but this - and many other down to earth moments - endeared me to the footballer in whom I’ve previously had only a fleeting interest. The fact he was initially attracted to "the posh one" makes her claim to come from a "very working-class" family even funnier.
I’m over the moon that the nineties and noughties are trending again (bring on the wide-leg jeans, baggy T-shirts and good music). It’s nostalgic to see footage of Posh and Becks. But as a non-football fan, the highlights of the series come when we see David Beckham at his most awkward: a boy floundering over conversation and social interaction. We can all relate to that, and I’m always interested in it.
I think back to relationship hurts that taught me to invest in the one lasting relationship that matters for eternity: the one we’re invited to have with Jesus Christ.
A key theme is this series is loyalty. David Beckham continually refers to Manchester United as family, with Alex Ferguson as a father-figure. It’s clear he never gets over having to leave the team. As I watch, I’m reminded of times I’ve felt disappointed or let down by what I thought had been deep human connection. As C.S. Lewis wrote: "God always allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his." I guess time and distance aid David in speaking so fondly of someone who hurt him so profoundly. I think back to relationship hurts that taught me to invest in the one lasting relationship that matters for eternity: the one we’re invited to have with Jesus Christ.
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When Beckham got to Real Madrid, the manager grandly described the nervous but glossy, handsome young man as a "symbol of post-modernity". David attempted a sentence-long speech (including only two Spanish words) then set off like a bewildered kid in an oversized blazer on his first day of school. There’s something vulnerable about him that is endearing and appeals to my maternal instinct. I’m aware that my own children will be setting off on their own adventures before I know it. We see him (strangely bare-footed) being interviewed in a clip from 2004. Recalling that experience, the interviewer, John Marlin, now reports that: "There was a curious contrast between how big and famous David Beckham was and how awkward he was talking in public."
New teammate Michel Salgaro wasn’t sure about him: "I don’t know if this guy was going to [suit to] us." Luis Figo was playing in David’s usual position. This unsettled the team: "I think at this time he wasn’t really what the team needs," Figo muses. Madrid’s manager admits David was there to triple the revenue. The rest of the team had to "work double" on 30-day tours because of him. The Sun newspaper scoured the world to find one person who didn’t know of Beckham. Posh was vilified and David missed his family and felt lonely.
Beckham found his feet on the pitch and his new friends were there to celebrate with him.
We then hear from fellow blonde Michel Salgaro that: "We got a group of friends to surround David, to make him feel better." At this comment, my son instinctively glanced at me and sure enough, my eyes were watering. These proud footballers were reaching out to someone who had unsettled their happy family and appeared to have it all, but who needed friends. They bonded over gestures and understood each other, despite the language barriers. Beckham found his feet on the pitch and his new friends were there to celebrate with him.
As episode three ended, my son and I shared a moment of reflection. I saw something click in his mind: maybe the cool kids at high school don’t have it all together. Maybe mum and dad are right when they tuck in the same cliches each time we venture somewhere new: Be a friend to someone else. Don’t leave people out. Make someone’s day by talking to them. I’m glad the series "Beckham" provided my son with a real-life example of the power of friendship (and I’m glad he didn’t seem to understand Gary Neville’s best-man speech).