David Beckham epitomises the modern celebrity age: in any other era, we wouldn’t have blinked an eyelid at a 38 year old footballer, other than for the sheer amount of time he had managed to stay in the game. Past his prime, we may no longer celebrate his on-pitch prowess in the same way, but we cannot deny the mammoth commercial clout of his brand. I marvel at the noise and clamour surrounding his move back to Europe.
The Beckham brand in its multiple forms has taken on global proportions, shepherding the herd with it at every stage. By leveraging his football career as a gossip point, David Beckham has been able to move across every point on the map. Beckham’s commercial success has been manifold, moving under the knowledgeable hands of Simon Fuller’s management company 19 from football to perfume and from fashion to advertising. He has moved from pitch to pitch and field to field seamlessly, enlisting the loyalty of millions worldwide each step of the way. We might only speculate on the actual contract struck with the club. Charitable donation is a wonderful stunt, but I guess we’ll never see the real deal.
Beckham is the master of reinvention, rivalling Madonna’s notable highs for his capacity to renegade over the course of his career. Along the way he has modelled clothes, endorsed some of the world’s biggest brands, and seized the world’s attention at all times. The interest that he has harvested across the globe – from the US to China – is now nestling itself into Paris Saint Germain, bringing glamour to the team and providing an opportunity for him to hide from the glare of the paparazzi under the country’s privacy laws.
So what’s the next step for the man who’s done everything in his career? Well, hopefully he will invest his brand capital in becoming a statesman for the game. His role in the Olympic 2012 bid carries a formidable legacy. It’s time for the likes of Beckenbauer and Platini to stand aside. Hopefully Golden Balls has the stuff.
There’s so much more for Beckham than the pantomime of the clichéd pundit pit. On home turf, not since the likes of Trevor Brooking or Bobby Charlton has football had a dignified British football statesman who could bring their wealth of knowledge and experience to the game. Beckham’s in it for the long haul.