When Beckham went to Spain – Extract

Michael Joseph Hardback • 30 September 2004 • £16.99

Extracted from Chapter 7, Divine Intervention

“They cut an odd couple that June in 2003, posing in front of millions of viewers around the world, from Madrid to Beijing – the lean young blond with his flowing locks and engaging smile next to the paunchy septuagenarian, bloated and wrinkled like an overripe fig, struggling to contain a look of wishing to be somewhere else. But the twinning of David Beckham and Alfredo Di Stefano was as necessary as it was contrived, designed as an image that summarized Real Madrid’s past, present and future in a seamless bridge across a history of glory and greatness which no other football club in the world could match. I don’t know to what extent Beckham even then really saw his destiny in the predilections, inclinations, habits and beliefs of someone old enough to be his grandfather, who had lived in another country, another era. But Di Stefano had become immersed in the history of Real Madrid and Spain, and Beckham had come to that club and that country. I’d been chasing the shadows of both men through time and space in ways that brought back memories and helped me look beyond the razzmatazz. Half a century earlier, the arrival of Di Stefano as a Real Madrid player marked a new departure in the history of the club, ushering in a period that would see the conquest of five consecutive European Cups. It was a curious beginning for me too, 1953, the year I was born, in the capital of Spain.”

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