David Beckham and the craze for his looks:
Superstar footballers have always drawn massive global following but when the looks compliment the skills, a footballer gets the female section of the fans wooing in particular. A lot of such top footballers over the years have drawn special attention from female fans but one among those examples stand out where the footballer generated unprecedented craze in Asia and in particular, Japan. He was non other than the iconic David Beckham- the captain of England’s national football team and the poster-boy of Manchester United and then Real Madrid (both football clubs with huge global appeal). In short, Beckham was the face of football in Asia because of the brand he was in himself at the time.
Fresh after the world cup of 2002 hosted in Korea/Japan and a time when his eye-popping hairstyles and sharp looks were complimenting some dazzling performances for Manchester United and England national team, Beckham was at the peak of his world popularity and particularly in Asia during the early 2000s. It was the time when he made a high profile switch from Manchester United to Real Madrid that cost a fat 42 million USD to Madrid but they later claimed that such was Beckham’s popularity that they recouped a good amount of their money by the sheer volume of Beckham’s jersey sales. At the time, when Beckham made a trip to Japan, continue reading to see what all were the consequences.
The Trip to Japan and the drama in the hotel Beckham stayed at:
During the June of 2003, David Beckham and his family made a promotional tour to Japan, a country where he was lovingly called as ”Beckham-sama” (Japanese equivalent for Sir Beckham) and already had a 10 feet chocolate statue in the capital- Tokyo. So Japan’s love for the star English footballer was well known. However, this visit in particular showed the world how crazy the female fans can be. Beckham back then was regarded as the number 1 sex symbol in Japan. So much so that the hotel in which Beckham stayed came into limelight across Tokyo and the hotel owner later told media how they made lots of money after Beckham left. The hotel further explained that they got loads of booking requests for the room in which Beckham stayed with special instructions that the bed sheets used by Beckham be neither changed nor washed. Those customers just wanted to sleep on the bed used by the man of their dreams. Months of the room were booked in advance by girls and the hotel kept on making smart moves and generated lots of cash by marketing the coveted room. Crazy ey? Brace yourself for this now. One of the female fan (name undisclosed) who stayed at the room admitted to have licked the toilet seat just because it was used by Beckham. Does this question the extent we believe we know a fan can go to?
Copying your idol’s style is normal, but wait…. pubic hairs??
The Beckham fever during 2003 was so intense that reportedly, Japanese women found a way to express their desire for their Casanova by styling their pubic hairs into the Mohican hairstyle Beckham sported at the 2002 world cup. Magazines played a big role in spreading the trend by covering articles on this manic enthusiasm of the Japanese women- a high percentage of whom were office going young professionals. A 29 year old mother of one (name undisclosed) who came out and admitted to have styled her pubic hairs on those lines also admitted to be sleeping with her English instructor just because the guy looked like David Beckham (to her) and was British. It wasn’t the worst thing to be a Beckham look-alike by any means, right?
”Beckham Tours” – Sold out!
When everyone in Japan- from the hotel to the local magazines to the advertisers were being creative in cashing in on Beckham’s popularity, ”Travel Bureau”- the largest travel agency of the country, did the same and launched a ”Beckham Tours” travel package. This package included visits to the place in London where Beckham was born, Beckham’s school, his multi-million mansion, old trafford stadium etc. The agency initially planned to receive 1500 bookings within one year but thanks to the sky-rocketed fascination for Beckham that 2500 bookings were received within few months.
The fact that Beckham was already married and had kids hardly mattered to Japanese girls and interestingly, it served as another point of attraction for them as a lot of them idolized him as the perfect family man who loves his wife and children despite of having such female following.
The return of Beckham to Japan in August 2003 with Real Madrid:
After the June’s craze loaded trip, Beckham returned to Japan once again in August of 2003- this time as a Real Madrid player. This trip was professional though and Real Madrid was on a traditional pre-season tour to Asia, a part of which was a game against FC Tokyo on August 2005. The tickets for the game were quite expensive but still sold out within hours of going on sale, nothing unexpected here. However prior to the game, the Real Madrid team used the Tokyo Dome facility for their training and to the surprise of the players including Beckham himself, a whopping 45,000 people turned up just to see the one hour training session, especially when the training wasn’t even free, priced at 3,000 Yen per ticket (as we were talking earlier in this blog on how everyone was cashing in on Beckham’s popularity).
In a team full of superstars like Ronaldo, Zidane, Luis Figo etc, every time Beckham touched the ball during the practice, hordes of female fans wearing Beckham’s Real Madrid jersey appeared screaming on the giant screen of the stadium, which also showed Beckham seemingly embarrassed at the overwhelming attention. After the session, Beckham noted- ”It was an extraordinary feeling walking out there and seeing how many people turned up just to see us train”. You know you were the reason Becks!
And when the actual game took place, a vast majority of the female section of the crowd was in Beckham’s jersey supporting Real Madrid instead of FC Tokyo.
David Beckham’s statue in a temple? You heard it right, but it’s Thailand this time!
The honorable mention in terms of Beckham crazy nation has to go to Thailand where there is a Buddhist temple (named- ”Wat Pariwas”) in Bangkok. It was indeed a controversial piece of act but the nation is so passionate about football and specially David Beckham that during the 1998 World Cup, the sculptor proposed this idea stating how football has been a religion and Beckham the equivalent god. The buy-in came up and a 1 meter golden statue of Beckham in Garuda pose was sculpted on the altar of the temple. Find below the images of it. The pic on the left shows Beckham zoomed in.
Unbelievable right? Asia has this unfinished business of love for Football where the lack of big teams and players within their countries has led to such following of top European clubs and worshiping of star foreign footballers. What’s your take on this special bond and in general the one between Japanese girls and David Beckham? Please comment and let share your thoughts :).