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What's Next For Brand Beckham? / Sport

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He’ll probably never play for England again. He is becoming increasingly prone to fouling younger, faster opponents. Deepening grooves mark the onset of middle age in that perfect face. If the 35-year-old player is fading, Beckham the brand is simply entering a new phase. It’s time to disentangle what soccer’s strongest individual brand means to different people, and where Beckham and his brand managers will take it after he retires.

Beckham has three main constituencies. The first are people inside soccer. To his teammates, Beckham was an “honest professional.” They didn’t see him as the show-off on a billboard, but as the sweet, quiet and slightly dim boy in the corner of the change room.

Early on in his career at Manchester United, Beckham absorbed from his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, the dictum that everything you achieve is thanks to the team, and that afterward you shower and get on the bus and keep your head down. When Beckham tries to describe himself, he usually gropes for the word “professional.” Criticized in public by his teammate Landon Donovan at the Galaxy last year, he hit back with the harshest slur he could think of: "It's unprofessional in my eyes. In soccer players' eyes throughout the world, it would be unprofessional to speak out about your teammates, especially in the press and not to your face.” Never in 17 years as a player, he added, “have I been criticized for my professionalism.”

Beckham’s second constituency, the English nation, has been the least kind to him. British heroes tend to be more popular abroad than at home. This is chiefly because the British can place each one of their compatriots precisely on the national class ladder. Just as Winston Churchill was unmistakably upper-class, Beckham was clearly...

Продолжение читайте в журнале English4U №12 (декабрь 2011) на который можно подписаться или купить здесь.

30 декабря 2011

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