David Beckham gave a nod to his Jewish roots tonight by paying tribute to his late grandfather.
Speaking about his childhood, the football icon told a 200-strong audience at JW3 that he was “very lucky that from a very young age, my parents, two sisters and grandparents supported me.”
Referring to his Jewish maternal grandfather, Joseph West, who died in 2009, the 41-year-old sports star said: “My grandad would follow me everywhere to watch me play.”
The former England captain added that he feels partly Jewish and although he was not brought up in the faith, recalls that “whenever [my grandfather] went to synagogue, I was a part of that.”
Beckham appeared at the Finchley Road venue in conversation with Kirsty Young, as part of the Alan Howard Foundation/JW3 Speaker Series.
The oversubscribed event, for which JW3 received 700 applications for just 200 tickets, largely focused on Beckham’s involvement as an ambassador with UNICEF UK, since 2005.
He also spoke about 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund which he launched last year to focus on specific issues involving young people around the world.
While he has been engaged with a number of charities over the years, Beckham recalled how UNICEF made a particular impression on him.
“I knew I wanted to be involved and that’s what I wanted to do when I finished playing.”
The father-of-four, who is married to former pop star and fashion designer Victoria Beckham, added: “Even before I had children I really cared about children. My kids are like that and my mum tells me that I was exactly the same as well!”
Away from his career and charity work, Beckham also revealed anecdotes about his personal life, including that he was introduced to Victoria thanks to the matchmaking efforts of Manchester United’s Jewish non-executive director Michael Edelson.
He recalls how he had met the successful girl band member a week before in the player’s lounge following a 1-1 tie against Chelsea – but she left with friend and 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 Old Trafford. Victoria is not the biggest football fan! But then Michael walked in with her and I thought I’ll get her number this time!”