The story behind David Beckham's parents, the real MVPs of the documentary.

The breakout stars of Netflix's Beckham were, without a doubt, David Beckham's parents.

Ted Beckham and Sandra West are featured throughout the four-part docuseries, which chronicles the life of the football legend, including the highs and lows of his professional sporting career, his wider cultural impact, and marriage to Victoria Beckham

Before David became the most famous football player in the world, his father was Ted was a heating engineer and repairman while Sandra worked as a hairstylist in nursing homes. But soon enough, the Beckhams' lives would turn upside down.

The Beckham family's early years.

In an interview with The Father Hood, David spoke about growing up with two working parents living in Leytonstone. "When we were kids, he used to go out to work at six o’clock in the morning and often come home at nine o’clock at night," David said.

"My mum was the same – she used to work during the day and then in the evenings, once my sisters and I were in bed, she’d do hairdressing until 12 o’clock at night."

Growing up, Ted was a die-hard Manchester United supporter. Despite the family struggling with money, every Christmas, David was gifted the team's kit.

"That was his dream. His dream was to have a son that played for Manchester United," Beckham said in the Netflix documentary. David was actually named after a former Manchester player, as his full name is David Robert Joseph Beckham.

"The Robert is after Sir Bobby Charlton," Ted said. "He’s my hero."


Ted Beckham's strict training style.

From an early age, Ted started a strict training regimen with David, taking the young boy out to practice for hours. 

"From the moment I got in from school to the moment I slept, I would be out in the garden [training]," David said.

The sports star's father channeled his own career aspirations into his son. "I’d loved to have been a footballer but I had the next best thing," Ted said.

"I taught him how to kick a ball properly. I used to say to him, 'Right, every time you hit the crossbar, I’ll give you 50p', and it used to cost me a fortune."

Beckham described the experience of growing up under that kind of pressure. "Left foot, right foot, over and over again. And it was all about control," he said.

“Even when I was seven or eight years old, he’d boot the ball up as high as he could and say, 'Control it. Okay, not good enough, do it again. 'Not good enough, do it again,' over and over again."

At one stage, after Ted grew worried that David wasn't bulked up enough, he started making the young boy drink Guinness and eat raw eggs.

David eventually joined the youth team Ridgeway Rovers, where he won 92 matches in a row, but David admitted he never received much praise when his father attended the games. "I was scared when he was there because I knew if I put a foot wrong, he’d tell me. And he’d always tell me. Always."

Beckham noticed that his father and mother would clash. "I would hear my mum turn round to my dad and say, 'Stop talking to him the way you’re talking to him. Stop shouting at him, stop telling him off. He did well today,' and my dad would always be like, 'He did alright.'"


Sandra referred to Ted's treatment of their son as "too strict". 

"I used to say, 'he’s only young, leave him be, let him be happy.' I tried to tell him but he wouldn’t listen to me, and I used to get upset when he made him cry."

But ultimately, David was grateful to both his parents for supporting his dreams, as they often travelled more than 320km from their London home just to attend their son's matches.

David would go on to be scouted by Manchester United at 15 years old. 

"My dad was my inspiration; I wanted to win for him," David said on Disney+ documentary Save Our Squad.

"I wanted to play well for him and my mum as well, of course. My mum was the one that was driving me to training, to games, when my dad was working. I, as a parent now, realise how much my parents gave up for me."

Hey now! Listen to this episode of The Spill about David and Victoria's cheating scandals. Post continues after podcast. 

Ted and David Beckham blame each other for David's parents' divorce.

After 33 years of marriage, Ted and Sandra filed for divorce in 2002. In his autobiography, Beckham: My World, the footballer blamed his father for the marriage breakdown.


"He loves my mum but he's never been affectionate to her in front of my two sisters and me. He's quite hard-faced and can be sarcastic," David wrote.

"He also gets fired up easily... The quality I like least in myself is my short temper. I think I get it from my dad."

Then Ted published his own book, David Beckham: My Son, where he wrote that David's fame had contributed to his divorce from Sandra.

"All the hype, all the stress, all the attention – it wasn't a world we were used to and it was very tough. By the end, all we had in common was football. We just drifted apart," Ted wrote.

David was reportedly left fuming over not being consulted about the book before it was released. 

David didn't tell his father he was leaving Manchester United. 

David's relationship with his dad soured even more when he was booted out of Man Utd and signed with Real Madrid in 2003 – news that Ted only learnt from Beckham's agent.

David didn't invite his father to watch him sign with the new club. "I don’t know if I can repair my relationship with him," Ted said at the time

"We’ve hardly spoken. My bigg­est upset was not being invited to his signing. I’m choked, really. I’ve been there since day one and that really upset me. I’ll never forgive him for that."

As David, Victoria and their son Brooklyn moved to Spain, Ted said the distance drove a further wedge between them. 

"I still have to work and I can’t afford to fly over to Madrid every week. When he was at Man­chester United, I could pop in the car and drive up the road. I can’t do that now. My biggest fear is that it is all over for us," he said. 


“I’ve lost him – that’s how I feel... We’ve lost that comradeship we had between us."

David and his father reunite.

After five years of their fractured relationship, a near death experience would reunite the family. In 2007, Ted suffered a heart attack, prompting David to fly home from the US to be by his bedside.

Since then, the father and son have been closer than ever. In 2021, David was Ted's best man at his London wedding to law professor Hilary Meredith.

David credits his father for his football career. "All the strengths in my game are the ones Dad taught me in the park 20 years ago," David wrote in My Side.

After David became a father of three, he realised how much his parents had sacrificed for him. "I was lucky Dad was so willing to do it with me," he said. "The moment I got home from school, I'd turn around to you and say, 'Let's go to the park or let's go out in the garden.' And you never said no to me," David told his dad in a video for Haig Club. 

"You've turned out exactly how I want," Ted replied.

Feature image: Getty. 

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