Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beckham Bends It Like...uh, Beckham

Last night, along with 45,000 of my closest friends, I had the chance to watch the world's most famous footballer - David Beckham - as his club, Real Madrid, took on Real Salt Lake in a friendly match.

I went with Traci's little brother, Tim, who has an enormous man-crush on Beckham. We were ecstatic when we were able to catch a glimpse of him in suit and tie as he entered the field. However, we felt more than a little nervous when we didn't see him warming up with the team before the game. (He was injured during his last world cup match) He suited up, but didn't take the field during the first half.

Everyone was there to see Beckham, the huge superstar. The funny thing about it is that I don't think many people know why Beckham is famous. Everyone knows he, to quote Zoolander, is "really, really, really goodlooking." Everyone knows he's married to Posh Spice and that he's a great player. But is he a better player than anyone else? Why is he the international superstar? I checked out his career wikipedia. Sounds impressive, but clearly what makes him the superstar is that he is the face of world soccer. The very goodlooking face of soccer.

And while soccer critics say that these days Beckham is more looks than skills, it was impossible not to get caught up in watching him play. At the beginning of the second-half, Beckham took the field, greeting by deafening cheers.

Midway through the second half, the moment happened. Beckham was fouled just outside of the 18-yard box. He was awarded a free kick. We were about to watch Beckham bend it. In the few seconds between the foul and the kick, Rice Eccles Stadium turned into a lightning storm of flash bulbs. The air was absolutely electric. And then he kicked it.

The shot missed wide, but it didn't matter. Tim leaned over to me and said, "I can die happy now." It really wasn't that dramatic, but it was dramatic.

The home team lost 0-2 and no one cared. They had witnessed maybe not the best, but definitely the most famous athlete in the world play soccer for 45 minutes. After all the others had left the field, Beckham lingered. He stood in the middle of the field and turned, one-by-one, to each side of bleachers and clapped in thanks to the crowd. Absolute class act. Everyone went home happy.

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