Former professional soccer player David Beckham, one of the game’s best-known and most accomplished athletes, shared leadership insights and reflected on his Jewish connections in a July 2 address at St. John’s Wood Synagogue in London.
Beckham, who co-owns soccer teams in Miami and in Manchester, England, was on hand to launch the Lira Winston Fellowships for Jewish educators. The event drew nearly 700 people, reportedly.
“My grandfather was Jewish on my mum’s side. So I do have a real connection,” said Beckham, who is married to Victoria Caroline Beckham (née Adams), known as Posh Spice in the pop group Spice Girls.
The footballer told the audience that his grandfather always made sure he wore a kippah when he went to bar mitzvahs and Jewish weddings. “I used to see my grandma preparing the chicken soup and the matzah balls and the latkes,” he said. “It was always about the family coming together, so I’m part of the community, which I’m proud of.”
Beckham also talked about parenting styles. His is not as strict as was his father’s—for which he said he is thankful. “Whatever they want to do, I support them,” he said of his kids. “I just want them to be happy and polite and humble.” (His 24-year-old son, Brooklyn, married American-Jewish actress Nicola Peltz last year in a star-studded ceremony in Palm Beach, Fla.)
Reflecting on his career, Beckham expressed his deep connection to Manchester United. “I never wanted to play for any other English team. Ever,” he said. “Manchester United was my team.”