NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Tokyo area comes to halt for Beckham visit

Tokyo area comes to halt for Beckham visit

June 20, 2003 12:14 IST
Helicopters whirred overhead and normally industrious office workers poured onto the streets on Friday as a downtown Tokyo area came to a halt for a rare visit by football icon David Beckham.

The 28-year-old England captain, on the third day of a promotional Asian tour, showed off the skills that have made him world famous at a primary school near the fashionable Ginza shopping and entertainment district.

Japanese television showed 350 students in blue and white school uniforms lined up in orderly rows on the school sports ground, each carrying a pink carnation, their impatience barely contained by nervous teachers.

Entering to screams of "konnichiwa" (hello), Beckham accepted a bouquet of red flowers from a little girl and kissed her on the cheek.

A smiling Beckham then had a brief session with members of the school football team, gently passing the ball back and forth to several youngsters.

"Seeing these kids' faces and how happy they are, this just makes my trip," Beckham said.

According to Japanese media, Beckham and pop-star wife Victoria's trip will help earn them about one billion yen ($8.44 million) thanks to lucrative deals to sell chocolates and beauty treatments in Japan.

That is more than he is expected to earn in a year as a player for Spanish glamour club Real Madrid, where he is now

set to move after Manchester United agreed to sell him.

In a question-and-answer session, one girl asked what hairstyle he planned next, a reflection of the Japanese obsession with his hair that sparked imitations of his Mohawk cut after last year's World Cup.

"I don't know," Beckham replied. "Do you have any ideas for me?"

Thousands of people, from office workers on their lunch breaks to teenagers clad in the Manchester United number seven jersey, pressed close outside the school gates, cameras and camera-equipped mobile phones at the ready, hoping for a glimpse as Beckham's car whisked past.

Many others vied for positions along windows and on roofs of office buildings overlooking the school with a few even holding banners saying, "We love you, Beckham."

At a traditional Japanese restaurant across from the school around 20 kimono-clad waitresses stood in the street. "We're out here to greet Beckham," one said. "I hope we don't have any customers for lunch today."

Some onlookers said they envied the children.

"I really wish I could have been one of those students," said 36-year-old Kumi Hashiguchi.

Meanwhile, Victoria was tending to her own business, attending an opening ceremony of a jewellery shop in the city's fashionable Aoyama district.

George Nishiyama
© Copyright 2019 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.