David Beckham opens up about his mental health struggles after 1998 World Cup incident

David Beckham, the former England captain and one of the most iconic footballers of his generation, has revealed how he suffered from clinical depression after being sent off in the 1998 World Cup. In a new Netflix documentary, Beckham and his wife Victoria share their personal stories and insights into their careers, family and relationship.

The red card that changed his life

The documentary, titled Beckham: For the Love of the Game, features footage and interviews from Beckham’s illustrious career, spanning from his early days at Manchester United to his stints at Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. It also covers his international appearances for England, where he earned 115 caps and scored 17 goals.

David Beckham opens up about his mental health struggles after 1998 World Cup incident
David Beckham opens up about his mental health struggles after 1998 World Cup incident

However, one of the most pivotal moments of his career was also one of the most painful. In the 1998 World Cup in France, England faced Argentina in the round of 16. The match was tense and evenly matched, with both teams scoring two goals each in the first half. In the second half, Beckham was involved in a tussle with Argentina’s captain Diego Simeone, who pushed him to the ground. Beckham reacted by kicking Simeone in the back of his leg, which was spotted by the referee. He was shown a red card and sent off, leaving England with 10 men for the rest of the match.

England eventually lost the match on penalties, and Beckham became the scapegoat for the nation’s disappointment. He faced a barrage of abuse and criticism from fans, media and even some of his teammates. He was hanged in effigy outside a pub, pelted with rocks and glasses at an away game, and branded as a traitor and a disgrace.

The impact on his mental health

Beckham admitted that he was “a mess” after the incident, and that he struggled with depression for months. He said he felt guilty for letting down his country, his family and himself. He said he lost his appetite, his sleep and his confidence. He said he wished he could erase that memory from his mind.

He also revealed how he received support from his wife Victoria, who was pregnant with their first child at the time. She said she saw him “broken” and “clinically depressed”, and that she wanted to “kill” the people who abused him. She said she tried to comfort him and remind him of his talent and passion for the game.

He also credited his manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, for helping him cope with the situation. He said Ferguson called him and asked him how he was doing, and told him not to worry about it. He said Ferguson gave him the confidence to play again, and to prove himself on the pitch.

The redemption and legacy

Beckham said he used the negative energy as a motivation to improve himself as a player and a person. He said he worked harder than ever before, and focused on his performance. He said he wanted to show people that he was not a quitter, and that he loved playing for England.

He eventually won back the hearts of the fans and the respect of his peers. He became the captain of England in 2000, and led them to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. In one of his most memorable moments, he scored a last-minute free kick against Greece to secure England’s place in the tournament. He also scored a penalty against Argentina in the group stage, which was seen as a sweet revenge for his red card four years earlier.

He went on to play in two more World Cups, in 2006 and 2010, before retiring from international football in 2013. He is widely regarded as one of the best free kick takers and crossers of all time, as well as one of the most influential and marketable athletes in history. He has won numerous trophies and awards, both individually and with his clubs. He has also been involved in various humanitarian and charitable causes, such as UNICEF and Malaria No More.

He said he is proud of what he has achieved in his career, but also humble about his mistakes. He said he has learned from his experiences, both good and bad, and that they have shaped him as a person. He said he hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams, and to overcome their challenges.

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