David and Victoria Beckham at the British Fashion Awards


FAMILY MAN: The Beckhams may now be a brand with businesses that stretch from fashion, fragrance and makeup to underwear, men’s wear, and sports endorsements, but it wasn’t always this way. David Beckham can recall the time he first saw his future wife on TV, and the moment when he managed to score her phone number — after a few glasses of wine.

This week, Beckham is marking the 75th anniversary of the British radio show, Desert Island Discs, with an interview where he reveals much about growing up, his football career, meeting and marrying Victoria and raising their four children. Desert Island Discs is a weekly show where interviewees are asked to name the songs they’d take with them to a deserted island. The show, presented by Kirsty Young, aired Sunday, and will be rebroadcast Friday. It is also available on BBC iPlayer.

Beckham said he remembered first seeing Victoria on TV, dressed in this black cat suit, and she immediately became his favorite Spice Girl. He said that it was “without a doubt” love at first sight when he later spotted her at the player’s lounge. “She was obviously there for a reason, and I was hoping that I was that reason, and apparently I was. She had a couple of glasses of white wine, and I saw my opportunity while she was slightly tipsy and I spoke to her for 25 minutes and I got her number. So it worked.”

It was Simon Fuller, the British music impresario and creator of the Spice Girls, who engineered the meeting, thinking the two might make a nice match. At the beginning, Fuller wanted to keep their relationship low-profile as she was already a star, and he had yet to achieve fame as a footballer for Manchester United. Beckham said that when he and Victoria first started dating, they would frequently meet in the parking lot of Harvester, a chain restaurant in Manchester, in his blue BMW and “would just kiss and spend time together.”

Although he recalls their wedding fondly — he now has doubts about his outfit. “1999 was a special year,” said Beckham. “As a Manchester United player I won the Treble [three sporting victories in the same season], I got married to Victoria, and then we had our first son Brooklyn.” Looking back at the wedding, he recalled the his-and-hers purple ensemble, and said it was bold. “Victoria’s was nice,” he said. “I looked like one of the guys out of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ when they went to that party. I even had a top hat. Unbelievable. What was I thinking?”

He’s certainly moved on: Today, Beckham is one of the backers behind, and the face of, Kent & Curwen, the sporty British men’s wear brand. His company Seven Global has a business partnership with the Trinity Group-owned heritage brand.

On sticking together for nearly two decades, Beckham said they are a strong family unit.”We’ve got strong parents,” he said. “We were brought up with the right values. Of course, you make mistakes over the years. We all know marriage is difficult at times, and it’s about working through it. Whenever we’ve come up against tough times, we know each other better than anybody knows us. We have an amazing life which we are very respectful of. We are also private people.”

He said while people have said that the two only stayed together because they’re a “brand,” Beckham said it wasn’t true and they’re still together because they love each other. “We stay together because we have four amazing children,” he said. “When we do go through tough times we work through them as a family, as a unit.”

He said that while his children — Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper — are in the spotlight, he and Victoria do their best to protect them. “We can’t control the exposure that they get,” they are part of a family that is quite famous, he said. “We protect our children as much as we can. People can be critical. I still feel unbelievable that a person can criticize an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 17-year-old and a 5-year-old. That’s bullying. They are in the public eye. All we can do is protect them as much as we can.”

Among the songs he selected, none were by the Spice Girls. They included Elton John’s “Something About the Way You Look Tonight;” The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses;” Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine,” and his all-time favorite — Ella Fitzgerald’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.”

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