With only two weeks to go until the World Cup in Brazil, former England captain and global superstar David Beckham has been back in the media spotlight. A camera crew has followed the intrepid Essex boy deep into the Amazon jungle where this veteran of footballing conflicts with the likes of Diego Simeone and the Sir Alex Taggart hair dryer has encountered more natural perils such as snakes, alligators and mosquitoes.
The biggest shock for the former Premier League pin-up boy, though, was the discovery that – a mere 800 miles into the usually impenetrable rain forest of the Amazon basin – there lives a tribe of people who have never heard of him. Think of that. A whole group of villagers who have lived, moved and had their being in total ignorance of the identity and global celebrity of David Joseph Beckham.
It really does defy belief – particularly as there is a thriving Spice Girls fan club in this remote outpost. Or perhaps that’s just a mischievous rumour. Whatever the case, the fact is that just about the most famous sportsman on the planet had to journey far, far into the back of beyond to find a spot where his name and fame have failed to reach.
Spookily, the surprises don’t end there. Although these rustic and agricultural people are blissfully unaware of the global celebrity of Mr Beckham, it turns out that they worship as a god another football personality entirely – one whose name is unknown practically everywhere else on the globe, with the possible exceptions of Blackpool, Swindon and Hull.
Paradoxical as it may seem in a society innocent of any trace of Beckham mania, it is the almost totally anonymous front-runner for the Leeds job, Dave Hockaday, who is revered and idolised by these simple farmers and tillers of the Brazilian earth. Ignorant alike of the magic of Beckham’s right foot and the legendary reputations of some of the world-renowned giants he’s played for (as well as Man U), the villagers ignored him completely – and yet plied the former Real and DC United star’s camera crew for more details of Hockaday, the man they venerate as a local deity.
What about Dave’s goal-scoring exploits at Bloomfield Road, they demanded, eagerly. Could they have details, please, of his coaching contribution to Watford’s play-off success in 2006? Why had Forest Green seen fit to part company with a legend such as Hockaday – and would he, could he now be tempted to take over at Elland Road?
The previously undiscovered Amazonian village was all abuzz with these burning questions, even as they scratched their heads and wondered aloud who this Beckham geezer was. Such total and uncritical worship of a man quite literally unknown everywhere else is a phenomenon just as striking, in quite the opposite fashion, as their total lack of any idea of Beckham’s own place in the Beautiful Game.
Meanwhile, in LS11 – a society just as insular as any to be found in a South American jungle – it remains unclear as to who exactly will be granted the dubious honour of succeeding previous incumbent Brian McDermott as Leeds United coach/manager/whatever. Whether it turns out to be Hockaday himself, Uncle Festa, or any other of the rumoured ten candidates to be interviewed by il Duce Massimo Cellino, the Leeds United fans are likely to be the last people whose preference will be taken into account. That’s the way the wind is blowing and the cookie crumbling around LS11 these days.
If it is Hockaday – then perhaps we can look forward to the formation of the Amazonian Jungle Branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club. Any suggestions of Beckham for Hon. President, though, are likely to be rejected. They’d be looking for someone with Elland Road connections and – ideally – a bloke they’ve actually heard of.