If you’ve been a longtime follower of the blog, my love for David Beckham is not unknown. I’m a fan, pure and simple. From him as a person, to him as a role model, style icon and father, he’s just a damn cool guy. He’s had one hell of a career, belonging to a small group of athletes who’ve transcended their sport to become a global superstar. Michael Jordan did it with basketball, Roger Federer in tennis, and Tiger Woods in golf. These stars are not just defined by their sports, but have built up a brand around themselves. But David Beckham trumps them all. Globally he is an icon. A pin-up star. A footballing superstar. And the epitome of the ‘family man’. Brand Beckham is a multi-million dollar business that covers fashion, sports, charity, and even soft drinks.

I mean, OK, there have been some questionable partnerships; Reuters reports Beckham was one of Pepsi’s key ambassadors for 10 years featuring in some of the brands most memorable (read: hilariously cheesy) adverts. Remember the team of superstars led by Beckham in the middle ages? Or how about taking on Sumo wrestlers? No? Here’s a refresher:

But still, I suppose anyone that can have a laugh and poke fun at life is pretty sound.

Like all major sports stars, Beckham was also quickly picked up by one of the biggest sports brands, adidas. His relationship with adidas was apparant on and off the pitch, appearing in another ad where he had to share the limelight with rugby star Jonny Wilkinson. The two stars practiced kicking the balls from each other’s respective sports in the advert. Not only is Beckham a great ambassador but also a true gentleman. Wilkinson recounted in his autobiography that Beckham called him up before the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final to wish him luck.

He also made his mark in the designer world with Armani - Emporio Armani underwear to be specific. Remember the billboards? The news headlines about Beckham’s golden balls being 10 stories tall?

A global brand

However, it was after he played his last game in 2013 for Paris Saint Germain in France’s Ligue 1 that his career as a brand ambassador really ramped up (I mean, he did need a new way to earn bank). The marketing machine behind the Beckham brand has meant the ex-England international is now the face of some of the world’s biggest and most luxurious brands.  Many of which I’ve covered before, including his continuing relationship with Swedish brand H&M, fronting a collaboration in bodywear before expanding into a full clothing line and several more adverts including two with comedian Kevin Hart.

In fact, Beckham seems very keen to move past his sports roots. His relationship with motorcycling brand Belstaff has combined his love of motorcycles with fashion. The collaboration led to him acting opposite Hollywood legend Harvey Keitel in a short film called Outlaws where he played a lone biker rescuing a damsel in distress (naturally). Speaking to Elle, Beckham told the site that what appeals to him most about biking is the freedom of nobody knowing who he is.

A lasting legacy

It is easy to imagine why Beckham is one of the world’s most recognisable celebrities. In fact it is easy to forget what he accomplished when he was playing football. Adrian North, a columnist for Premier League site Betfair labels Beckham as one of the world’s greatest passers, stating he’ll be remembered for things like his gravity-defying pass to Ronaldo in 2006. There was also the free kick that sent England to the 2002 World Cup and the infamous sending off that saw England exit the 1998 World Cup.

But what about the rest of it? From sarong-gate to corn-rows and the cover of unlimited magazines, brand Beckham has always been at the forefront of style trends (even if some are very, very questionable). I wonder where he’ll be in the zeitgeist in 10 more years, especially with Victoria taking much of the fashion spotlight. Maybe the answer is everything; the fact that Beckham took his brand and has continued to constantly evolve it shows how he deserves to be recognised as a football legend, a businessman, as well as a global icon.

Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.