The legend that is David Beckham on beard-loving, being manly and getting snakes out of the bath
This year marks your 10-year fragrance anniversary. How do you think the Beckham fragrance brand has evolved?
When we first started it was all about: “What can we bring into the market that people will love?” We can look back and say that first fragrance is still great and it’s still something we’re proud of.
How have you managed to keep it contemporary?
When you get older – I’m coming up to 40 – your senses change. What you liked 10 years ago is not something you like 10 years on. But I’m fortunate because I still love and wear the first fragrance we brought out. I look back at some of the haircuts I’ve had over the years and I think, “Wow, I really did that.” But with the fragrances I look back and think, “Actually, this is really cool.”
Do the fragrances you’ve launched over the past decade serve as different ‘markers’ in your life and career?
Definitely. When I was 11 years old and lived at home, my dad used to listen to Michael McDonald. And every time I hear Michael McDonald playing it takes me back to that time. Fragrance does exactly the same thing. Obviously, in the past 10 years, a lot has happened. But I can still smell the first Instinct we brought out and it reminds me of good memories of Madrid, or back in LA.
Can we check your own instincts? What would you do if you found a snake in your bath?
I’d like to think I’d be the one to get the snake out of the bath, but it would probably be my eldest boy [Brooklyn]. He loves animals. He’s not scared of anything. He’d go in, pick it up and throw it out the window. Actually, not throw it out the window. Put it nicely down in the woods.
If clothes maketh the man, does the same go for fragrances?
Without a doubt. Fragrances define a person. Some people like to change what they wear from day to day. But it’s nice to have a fragrance that you love and stick with, because people associate you with that smell.
What was the first fragrance you wore as a teenager?
Obsession [by Calvin Klein]. Well, it was actually my grandad’s. I used to go into his bathroom and spritz some on. I never used to tell him.
Who smelled the worst in your Manchester United days?
Everyone smelled great [laughs]. I don’t know. I didn’t really go round smelling them all…
You seem to constantly be involved in projects. Do you ever plan to stop working, or is it all too much fun?
I like doing what I do. Obviously I was a footballer for 22 years, but the success I had on the field created something for me off the field as well. It’s a different kind
of excitement to stepping on the pitch. Nothing will, or can, replace that. But if you look at the sponsors or brands I’m part of, they’re all long term. I’ve been with Coty for more than 10 years, Adidas for 19. But this is a phase of my life where I’m going into the business world. It’s been fun so far.
You have 32 tattoos (at last count). Are you thinking about getting any more?
I have a hell of a lot of tattoos. When we talk about fragrances defining a person, my tattoos mean exactly the same thing to me. Everything I have on me is a memory, there’s a reason it’s there. So there’s every chance I’ll be having more.
Noel Gallagher recently asked you if you would appear in one of his videos. Has he followed up?
He did mention it to me via text the other day. I think I would [appear in one of his videos], just because I’m a big fan of Noel and of Oasis. Even though he’s a Manchester City fan, I’d try to get my head around that – I might wear a Manchester United shirt in the video.
You watch your sons play for the Arsenal junior teams. Are you a competitive dad?
Very. Even kicking about with the kids in the back garden, I like to win. But obviously they’re my boys, and I love them, so I do let them win. I just don’t make it easy for them. I like the boys to play to win, but if they lose, then to do so with grace.
Do your boys think you’re cool?
The younger ones [Romeo and Cruz] definitely think I’m cool. Brooklyn goes through different moments. He thought I was cool the other day because I got Kanye to send him his new shoes [750 Yeezy Boost trainers]. So that made me cool for about five hours. He’s a massive Kanye fan.
Finally then, are beards over?
Obviously not [gesturing to his heavily bearded face]. I’ve still got mine intact. It’s down to personal preference. There is that trend, and there has been that trend, of guys with heavy beards. But I’m keeping mine because everyone keeps telling me to shave it. I’m a Taurus, so I’m slightly stubborn, my wife would probably say more than slightly. But I love a good beard, personally.
David Beckham’s new Instinct Gold Edition fragrance is available from Superdrug now
(Image: Craig McDean for David Beckham fragrances)