Amid the advanced PR choreography of the British Olympic bid over the last few days, the most significant development has been the effective re-engineering of David Beckham’s career as an international sports statesman and roving ambassador for the country he leads on the football field.
Yesterday’s press conference was a turning point. It showed the world a glamorous and charming Captain of England, effortlessly brushing aside the fact that he’s not actually an Olympic champion with references to his impeccable credentials as a team player and his love of the East End of London where he grew up.
Teased by the Daily Mail about a photo-op with Tony Blair, as “Britain’s knight in shining velour” it was quite evident that he cuts a far more convincing and dignified figure WITHOUT the singing stick-insect on his arm, and there was a noticeable absence of bling, daft haircuts and scowling. Where New York’s trump card was Mohammed Ali, who inspired warmth and sympathy but failed to save the bid, Beckham is all about NOW, and all about positive energy.
Win or lose, he remains one of the most iconic characters both in British life and on the world stage
– remember he’s MASSIVE in the Far East – and while the press have been responsible for letting it happen, it’s the people behind him, the David Lee’s of this world, who must take responsibility from now on.
So long as he’s well-advised, not cossetted or left to Victoria’s care, we can assume that Beckham the Brand, “the Original, No-Spice version” has a long and healthy post-football career to look forward to.
After all, when it comes down to it, in common with many self-effacing Olympians, his view of the world is from the top of the tree, and when you’re that good, why be anything but nice?