'Beckham' documentary is like the man – a winner 2
David Beckham in the Netflix documentary 'Beckham.' Netflix

'Beckham' documentary is like the man – a winner

'Beckham' is a revealing, insightful, and even delightful documentary about one of the world’s biggest icons of the last 30-plus years -- David Beckham.
Rick Olivares | Oct 06 2023

(UPDATED) I thoroughly enjoyed "Beckham," a four-part documentary series on Netflix.

"Beckham" is a revealing, insightful, and even delightful documentary about one of the world’s biggest icons of the last 30-plus years -- David Beckham.

David Beckham whose feats on the pitch made him a star with Manchester United, the England National Team, Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan, and Paris St. Germain and who became a walking billboard. Who married Posh Spice of the Spice Girls and became an international obsession. 

It was as if he were predestined for greatness, someone who followed a dream with laser-like focus and achieved it and more. 

Furthermore, it shows an entirely different side to him that most aren’t aware of, including the opening scene with the bees. Truthfully? I wanted to see more of that.

Of course, football dominates everything -- the spectacular goals and the controversies. That is what perpetuated the legend.

A lot of this was played out in the newspapers and tabloids in Great Britain so much of the footage and interviews provide a lot of background to those who lived far away (as all this happened before the arrival of the internet).

I like that the film producers got almost all the essential people who were a part of Beckham’s career. It was great to hear all over what Sir Alex Ferguson and his teammates at Manchester United had to say especially during that rift with the gaffer.

It would have been good to hear from Steve MacManaman and Michael Owen who were the first English players to play for Real Madrid. Both struggled for similar reasons but later gave a good account of themselves. Beckham struggled too. It would have been nice to hear about the transition from England to Spain as Owen played alongside Beckham as part of those Galacticos. 

Having said that, it would have been nice to hear from Zinedine Zidane. And later, LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.

The documentary reveals that Beckham is a good person; a good and yet flawed person like others. And the flaws led to decisions that hurt either his teams or affected his relationship with football supporters, journalists, and teammates.

I was surprised the film’s producers omitted many incidents that added to the overall Beckham story.

Case in point, his loan from Manchester United to Preston North End where he impressed. Upon his return to United, he became a regular. 

I thought too that they didn’t stress that wave of youthful players – Phil and Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, and Becks himself that helped the club win an FA Youth Cup and whose subsequent promotion to the first team changed the fortunes of the Red Devils. 

Emphasis was placed on Glenn Hoddle leaving him out to dry after England’s exit at the hands of Argentina and Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup. I don’t think that many Britons did not need Hoddle’s post-game statements to blame Beckham. They can make that decision for themselves.

While Becks redeemed himself in the next World Cup with his leadership and the penalty that defeated Argentina, some quarters criticized him for losing the ball to Brazil’s Roque Junior that led to the goal of Rivaldo in a game that saw England sent home packing. 

Nevertheless, Becks was praised for his game in the World Cup and that it softened the criticism against him. I wonder though why it was not mentioned that he was playing with niggling injuries that could have jeopardized his career. That says something about Beckham’s character.

Nevertheless, that was a constant thorn in the side of many. 

There was his red card at the inaugural Club World Cup of 2000 where United drew with Necaxa, 1-1, in the group stages. This only fueled the dislike by opposing supporters and journalists. Whether that send-off was deserved or not, the criticism was he had not learned from his previous mistake. 

There were also his problems with his LA Galaxy teammates. He tried to force his way into a permanent move to AC Milan that totally did not sit well with the club. And as I recall, it wasn’t the first time that an Italian club figured in his career. Right after the 1998 World Cup, there were talks and rumors of a move to Juventus, but at that time, Sir Alex Ferguson was firmly in Beckham’s camp. So that was quashed rather quickly.

However, back to the LA Galaxy. The late writer Grant Wahl penned an entire book about it titled "The Beckham Experiment" that at that time was like Phil Jackson’s "The Last Season" – very telling and twice as explosive.

Having said that, the final episode felt rushed. They could have spent an entire episode about his MLS stint. After detailed and juicy tidbits of all the unseen footage from his Manchester United days, the five-year stint with the LA Galaxy merited how many minutes total? His time there was tempestuous. In "The Beckham Experiment," Wahl portrayed Beckham initially as a less than model teammate like the tell-all stories about Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Granted it might have been repetitive but the inclusion of these stories would paint a complete picture. Their omission doesn’t. So you have to wonder what was left on the cutting floor from Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, or even Glenn Hoddle and others.

It certainly isn’t revisionist history. Of course not. I would rather they tell the whole story.

I figure too that the producers of this four-part series took notes from "The Last Dance" – do they tread the controversial that has the possibility of reopening old wounds?

Aside from the problems with Ferguson, there was the cheating scandal with assistant Rebecca Loos. That’s dynamite.

But I guess, the Beckhams have moved on from that.

Nevertheless, "Beckham" the documentary is an enjoyable watch. And perhaps, Becks is football’s Teflon man. You find yourself pulling for him. For all his faults, the world has found a way to forgive him. He’s lucky in that regard as it all worked out in the end for Beckham.

He returned to Old Trafford several years ago to a deafening ovation and a hero’s welcome. 

And I enjoyed seeing Beckham’s new hobbies, his being a homebody and tidy person, as well as his new ventures. I wish we saw a bit more of this and how since his retirement, he has become an ambassador for the sport. 

What the producers should have done to close out the series was to emphasize his net effect on MLS -- the surge of the valuation of MLS franchises from $37 million in 2008 to $582 million in 2022. I do love that there was a short feature on Inter Miami and the arrival of Lionel Messi. 

I wish they summed up all of Becks’ achievements at the end. Yes, I love that banter with his son, Romeo, but it would have been nice to have seen a summation of all his personal and team honors. 

"Beckham," the documentary, is just like the man -- colorful, interesting, controversial, and well, delightful. Hence, Beckham, the man, comes off as the big winner. Netflix too for doing this.

It’s a great sports story about one of the world’s biggest icons who goes through a journey of fire and comes out ahead.

Would everyone have a chance to be like Goldenballs...

Now go watch it if you haven’t seen it.