David Beckham has discussed a period of depression he went through in the late 1990s, saying he faced a “tough” time after being sent off in the 1998 World Cup.
The former football star, 48, became a target for abuse when he received a red card in the game against Argentina.
Following the match, a pub hanged an effigy of the star outside its premises and during Manchester United’s first away game the following season, at West Ham, the team bus was pelted with stones and pint glasses.
Speaking to The Telegraph about whether this had led to a period of depression, Beckham said: “Yes, and it’s something I would never admit, because I was brought up by a dad who, if I said, ‘dad, I’m feeling a bit low today,’ he’d have said, ‘boy, get on with it’.
“But I was (depressed). I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. I was living day to day thinking about what was coming next.
“People were saying I should leave the country. It was tough.”
Discussing whether he has ever sought therapy, Beckham added: “No. People have mentioned it, and I think therapy is a good idea – in this day and age you hear more about sports stars going to have therapy, and how much it helps.
“But I was brought up in the East End of London. If I’d said to my dad, ‘I need therapy’, he’d have said, ‘What for?’ So I put my head down and worked harder.”
A new documentary about Beckham’s life is set to be released on Netflix, exploring the highs and lows of the star’s career.
Beckham has been married to Spice Girls singer and fashion designer Victoria Beckham for more than 24 years and she stars in the upcoming documentary, alongside some other well-known faces.
Speaking on the timing of this new project, Beckham said: “It just felt right, 10 years after retiring… The free-kick against Greece, the time the boot hit me… People know these stories, but they’ve never really heard my side.”
Talking about what it was like to re-examine some of these memories with director Fisher Stevens, he added: “I used to look at my weekly schedule and see ‘Fisher – five hours’ and be like, uuggghhh. Not that I have a problem with memory, but I’ve lived through it and to go back over it again in detail, I had to really dig deep.”
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