Soccer Icon David Beckham Says He Feels Jewish Because of His Grandfather, Who Took Him to Synagogue
Soccer superstar David Beckham revealed on Tuesday that he considers himself to be a Jew.
The British footballer shared the tidbit in a discussion at the London Jewish Cultural Center, also known as JW3. When asked by host and broadcaster Kirsty Young, “Do you see yourself as Jewish in any way?” Beckham, 41, replied, “My grandfather was Jewish, that was on my mother’s side, so yes, I do…”
Beckham then told the 200-strong audience, “I was never brought up Jewish, but like I said, my grandfather was, and every time we went to synagogue, I was part of that.”
Beckham was known to be close to his maternal grandfather, Joseph West, who died in 2009 at the age of 83. West accompanied his grandson to receive an OBE honor from the Queen in 2003 and the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player once called West his “footballing inspiration,” according to the UK’s Jewish Chronicle.
“My grandad would follow me everywhere to watch me play,” Beckham said.
During the hour-long talk with Young, the father-of-four said it saddens him that only his eldest son, Brooklyn, has strong memories of West. “He is really the only one who remembers him. It was explained to him, obviously the religion, but he was very young.”
The dialogue at JW3 on Tuesday focused largely on Beckham’s role as an ambassador for UNICEF UK, but he referenced his family frequently throughout the conversation with Young. He also talked about his wife, fashion designer and pop star Victoria Beckham, and how their relationship developed with the help of Jewish businessman Michael Edelson, a non-executive director of Manchester United.
David met Victoria, who was then a member of the Spice Girls, at the players’ lounge following a match between his team, Manchester United, and Chelsea soccer club, but she left with fellow Spice Girl Mel C before he was able to get her number.
“I thought, damn, I’ve missed my chance. But then a week later she turned up at [soccer stadium] Old Trafford,” he said, according to Jewish News Online. “Victoria is not the biggest football fan, as everyone knows. Then Michael walked in with her and I thought I’ll get her number this time!”
When asked by an audience member if Edelson did, in fact, introduce the couple — a claim the businessman has made in the past — the Brit replied, “He actually did.”