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Posh seen as power behind Becks
Gideon Long | June 12, 2003 18:35 IST
In celebrity land, where British soccer players rub shoulders with fashion designers, supermodels and pop stars, David Beckham is king.
But it is his wife Victoria, the former "Posh Spice" girl, who put him on the throne.
She, more than anyone else, was the one who turned him from a footballer into a global icon, and if he does indeed leave Manchester United this summer for Barcelona, Madrid or Milan, it might well be down to her.
"Posh Has Final Say" screamed the headline in London's Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday night amid frenzied speculation that Beckham is set to join Barcelona.
"David has to talk to her about it and see what she says before he decides," it quoted Beckham's father as saying.
Before he met and married Victoria, Beckham was a good-looking, talented and likeable footballer with a bright future at Manchester United.
But that was about it.
Since he married her at a lavish ceremony in 1999, he has become the biggest celebrity British sport has ever produced, an icon for teenage girls and gay men across much of the globe and, according to many, the most influential man in the country.
"When they got together she was definitely the more popular of the two," said Andrew Parker, expert in the sociology of sport at Warwick University.
"She certainly introduced him to a new circle of people and he became part of the soccerati because of her. All of a sudden he was an A-list celebrity.
"In the four years since then, however, we've seen his displacement of her in terms of fame and popular culture. We've seen the demise of her career and the rise of his."
POSH WEARS THE TROUSERS
Tabloid newspapers have long speculated that, behind the high walls and iron gates of their "Beckingham Palace" mansion, Posh is the one who wears the trousers in their relationship.
When the couple's baby boy Brooklyn fell ill in 2000, Beckham skipped a United training session to look after him and was dropped from the team as a result. Many were convinced it was Posh who had insisted her husband stay at home.
Posh has never seen eye to eye with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who is thought to blame her for luring him away from the training ground to lead a showbiz lifestyle.
Earlier this year, Beckham needed stitches above his eye after Ferguson kicked a football boot at him in a fit of post-match rage.
When Beckham turned up for training the next day, he had his hair swept back off his face and made no effort to hide his war wound from the waiting photographers.
Again, observers concluded, it was Victoria's idea to publicise the incident in a bid to push Ferguson into a corner and shame him into an apology.
During a trip to the United States this month, Posh has worked hard to promote her husband to a U.S. public who, largely immune to the joys of soccer, would not have recognised him if they bumped into him in the Old Trafford car park.
She may appear to have taken a back seat, but Victoria is still at the forefront of the "Posh and Becks" project.
"It's a collective venture," Parker said. "Irrespective of who's on the A-list at any particular time, it must necessarily rub off on the other partner."
So will Victoria give Barcelona the thumbs up?
She has never warmed to Manchester and few would be surprised if she persuades her husband to leave Britain for a spell on the continent.
But in many ways, Milan -- with its internationally renowned fashion houses -- would provide a better backdrop than Barcelona for Posh to pursue her career and promote her husband.
If Victoria gets her way, the Beckhams might yet end up in Italy next season rather than Spain.