Over the last few years, Netflix has upped its game in terms of documentaries with huge celebrity films like Miss Americana, Sr., and Homecoming. The latest of these is Beckham. David Beckham is one of the most accomplished professional soccer players ever and details his twenty-one-year career in the four-episode Netflix documentary.
The first episode throws you right into the world of Beckham and establishes the main characters as David, Victoria, his mom, his dad, and his friend/teammate Gary Neville. Additionally some other guests including his former coaches, other teammates, and for some reason, Anna Wintour are featured as well.
The documentary opens by introducing us to David Beckham off the field. It gives the audience an idea of who David is now in contrast with his younger self. Flashing to the first moments of David’s fame with a famous goal scored from the halfway line, the documentary shows a move that instantly cemented Beckham as one of the best technical players. As his fame grew, so did his life outside of football.
The documentary dives into how David Beckham met Victoria Beckham, his wife. Victoria is best known for her time as Posh Spice in the Spice Girls. At first, they were able to keep their relationship a secret, meeting up when they had time in between games, recording music, and doing tours. Soon though, the paparazzi caught wind of the relationship, and the privacy of the relationship was gone. The documentary shows just how invasive the paparazzi got throughout David Beckham and Victoria’s relationship. This isn’t the first time a documentary has shed light on the invasive tactics of the British tabloid industry. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry touched on the negative effects of the British press on their own relationship in their Netflix documentary entitled Harry and Megan released in 2022.
Back in the world of soccer, David’s career has grown and he gears up for his first-ever World Cup – a moment he has been waiting for since he was a little kid. England fights hard, but they lose to Argentina in penalty kicks. Much of the blame for the outcome of the game is put on David for receiving a red card, forcing the team to play down a player, and blocking David from being able to take one of the penalty kicks at the end of the game. This blame is placed on him not only by fans but also by England’s coach.
Following his first World Cup, David faced an extreme amount of backlash. On top of that, before the World Cup game, Victoria revealed that she was pregnant. David was faced with challenges not only in soccer but also in his personal life. David talks about how he found respite when visiting Victoria in New York. The Spice Girls protected David from a lot of the hate around him and were able to give him space with Victoria. But soon enough, David had to leave that bubble and return to England and to his Premier League team. The next few months are packed full of personal moments like the birth of his first son, his marriage to Victoria, and his struggle to overcome his loss in the World Cup. He finds new life with his Manchester United team and goes on to have one of the best seasons of his career, with the team winning the treble (three trophies): the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League.
David’s time with Manchester United started when he was only sixteen. He and others signed on to be trained under the head coach to become the future of the club. David’s time at the club would last twelve years before tensions between him and the coaches began to break down his relationship with the club. David, without his input or knowledge, was traded to Real Madrid. So David moved to Madrid and had to leave behind his wife and two children who were in school and could not pick up and leave. In Madrid, David grew his brand globally but distanced himself from friends and family.
Soon, a cheating scandal came out stating that David had been cheating on Victoria while apart from her in Madrid. The documentary does not dive into this subject as it did with the rest of David’s life. The Beckhams refer to it as alleged and throw doubt onto the accusations while remaining tight-lipped. They also do not say that the accusation has no merit, and David in the interviews conducts himself with a weight of guilt that leaves a firm conclusion to the situation up in the air.
His time with Madrid ends after four years, and David does something no one expects – he moves to L.A. to play for the American Major League Soccer (MLS) LA Galaxy team. MLS, when compared to soccer globally, is tiny. The budgets are smaller, the players’ salaries are smaller, and the fan bases are smaller. Many saw David’s move as stupid, saying he went from one of the best teams in the world to a tiny team no one cared about. David seemed to agree with this, as he was loaned to AC Milan twice while there. When David asked to be moved permanently to AC Milan, the owner of LA Galaxy refused. David’s aspiration to move to Milan and play there was not shared by Victoria who had just moved to L.A. with their children. Victoria loved L.A. The children were better protected from the paparazzi, she could work on her career, and she and David could get out of the brighter spotlight of European soccer.
Although David never joined AC Milan, he did end up returning to European soccer after five years in L.A. Paris Saint-Germain would be David’s last move for football. He played his final season there after a twenty-one-year career.
The documentary captures David’s incredible football career, going into detail about his retirement. David almost immediately bought an MLS team, which he could do because of the contract he signed with LA Galaxy previously. Interviews of David’s fellow players talking about retirement are particularly interesting during this portion of the documentary. They talk about how players are in a way addicted to the game and the adrenaline rush they get playing in front of huge crowds. Therefore when they retire, they have to find a new way to keep themselves busy that is not self-destructive. David found his outlet in creating the club, Inter Miami.
The documentary ends in the present with David signing Lionel Messi to the team and celebrating Messi’s first goal on the team. Then, just as the documentary started, it ends with David at home with his family living a relatively private life compared to his twenty-one years in the spotlight of global soccer.
Overall, the documentary gives a glimpse into David Beckham that has not been seen as clearly before- the man behind his incredible skill with a soccer ball. It makes the audience think about important questions. Is the British paparazzi doing real, tangible harm to the stars they stalk? What are the lasting mental consequences of being an athlete at such a high level? How does this much fame and world travel affect kids as they grow up? I recommend checking out the documentary to explore these questions and more for yourself.