David Beckham Biography

David Beckham’s early life and soccer development

David Beckham is one of the most recognized football players of all time. Although some will disagree about his talent on the field, there is no doubt that he could bend it like very few in the history of football. I decided to read the new book that recently came out about David Beckham's autobiography, The Life and Career of David Beckham, by Tracey Savell Reavis. I was hoping to learn more about his soccer development growing up. We can learn so much from reading about the early life of these professional soccer players. How they started playing, why they got involved with soccer, and their journey to the professional ranks. 


From reading Beckham's book, I did get a good sense of why he became the David Beckham we know today. We would love to sit down and discuss the book and his autobiography withe legend himself, but since it's not possible...... the next best thing is to analyze what I learned from the book and discuss it for your entertainment and education.


How it all started... David Beckham's Early Life

The Environment and Parental Support

One of the most important parts of learning from professional players, is to learn and discuss the environment where they grew up, then analyze how it impacted the development of that specific player. We seem to find a trend with Professional players. David Beckham was no different. The book starts out discussing David’s background and where his ancestors came from. It was pretty interesting to learn about his ancestors and family, but that’s not the reason you are reading this article. The book then describes how young David Beckham started playing soccer. It starts out with the influence from his father.  David’s father, Tim, played professionally in the lower divisions in England. He would go to training during the week and the then very young David Beckham would follow. At just 7 years old David would accompany his father to training, sometimes joining the team (yes the pro team for fun), and sometimes stayed after with dad to continue playing.

At home, his mother and father were both huge Manchester United fans. David’s grandfather was a Tottenham Hotspur fan. His homelife was filled with soccer loving members. David also visited Wembley stadium and watched many professional games during his childhood. This created a great environment for David to develop and be nurtured. Like any other child, he imitated his parents and wanted to be like his father. “On many different occasions he has remarked on spending time in his family’s back garden, kicking a soccer ball with his father” The Life and Career of David Bekcham; Reavis, Tracey (2014), pg 6. “By the time he was seven years old, David Beckham already had years of football under his belt” (Reavis 2014, pg 5). However very few of those hours were from actual structured training, most of the hours spent were with his father and friends. 

These excerpts from the book demonstrate the amount of time David Beckham spent playing with his family and friends. All unstructured, unscheduled, uninterrupted fun with friends. Too many parents overlook this and instead attempt to find an easy way out, instead opting for personal training, or club level soccer at an early age. 

Beckham recalls playing soccer with the neighbors and his father. He gives most of the credit of developing his free kick to his father. “When I wanted someone to kick a ball around with back in those days of dreaming, Dad was there, sometimes until it was so dark that we could hardly see each other. Mum would be worried because it would be 11 o’clock at night and we still weren’t home. But it was only because I still hadn’t practised my corners enough and I was begging him to stay on and be in goal for a few more. When I needed to be somewhere for a trial, a match or anything else connected with the game, Dad was there to make certain I made it in time. When I wanted advice he was there, although in the end he said it was up to me. With that kind of support behind me from the outset I have learnt to stand on my own two feet and not be afraid to make the right choices. Dad implanted so many of the best practices into me – keep improving, keep practising, keep your love of the game. And sign for Manchester United”. from The Free Library  

As you can see, David had an exceptional environment around him. Although we can’t all be professional players and take our son or daughter with us to training, we can offer many of these things that David’s father offered. We can choose to stay after practice, or go in the backyard and practice our kicking. We can be there for our kids when they need to be at practice or at a game. The lesson here is that David Beckham put in massive amounts of time to be great, it did not happen overnight, and it was not because of personal training or special clinics, but rather hours and hours of practice. 

So how much does parental support matter with young kids. And when I say parental support, I don’t mean just going to games and yelling, but actually encouraging and taking part in the development. Playing with them, coaching them, learning with them, and supporting them. The author goes on to state “But it was David’s father who had the most influence in his early football development. The elder Beckham nurtured this talent by working with David and honing his skills hour after hour, night after night at Chase Lane Park” (Reavis, 2014, pg 7).

The father later explained “I can’t say how much is down to me. I’am just part of a big cog that’s helped him to get where he is today. I was probably the big cog at the begining but there’s been other cogs since. We’d go over to the park all the time for a kick-around. I’d get one side of the goal and David the other and we’d try to chip the ball and hit the crossbar. Chipping in the park with his father helped him learn the technique. “He’s admirable, I mean he was willing to put in the time needed to develop what would be the most effective method. He practiced it, day after day, session after session, year after year. And he perfected it” (Reavis, 2014, pg 8).

Organized Soccer 

So how did David Beckham start playing organized soccer? David soon started playing organized soccer at about 8 years old. Joining a very small club in his community that was started by his father and a few other parents. They simply put an ad up in the newspaper and made a team, the Ridgeway Rovers. His father and Coach Underwood started coaching the team. Coach Underwood is quoted in Reavis, 2014, stating that “David looked a professional from day one. Even at eight he could hit the ball from every corner of the pitch. his timing was incredible. He could strike the ball like a rocket – from any distance”. (Reavis, 2014, pg 10). What that tells me is that David was already good when he joined his first team, so it will be difficult for anyone to take credit for what he became, except his father maybe. It was his father that introduced, maintained, and nurtured David’s love for the game. The book later discusses that the team, Ridgeway Rovers, won several cups and tournaments during David's young playing career. This tells me that they had very good players to begin with since they started winning at a young age. The author later confirms this and mentions that there were 4 other kids who went on to play professionally on David’s team. 

The lesson to learn here about Beckham's autobiography is that he had parent coaches and he played within his community. It wasn't the big clubs that developed him. In fact Beckham didn't start playing with Manchester United until he was 16 years old, which by that time he was already very polished. He played for Tottenham Hotspur during his teen years. 

Conclusion

David Beckham is known for his free kicks and good looks. On the field he was above average because of his passing accuracy. But when there was a free kick, there are very few that can do it better, ever. If free kicks were eliminated from soccer, David would still have been a very good player. He was not very good at 1 v 1, but he was an excellent passer. All those nights he spent with his father, chipping the ball and trying to hit the crossbar were hours and hours of practice. However it was just a game to young David. He didn’t realize that he was preparing himself to be a magnificent goal scorer from set pieces. This is the intrinsic learning that Ted Kroeten talks about in Episode one of the YSE Podcast. When you are having fun, you learn without thinking about it. David Beckham wanted to spend time and play with his dad, but he wound up becoming a legend.!


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