An OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) is a British honour given to outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the country. Many OBE recipients receive the award for services to charity or science. However, footballers including David Beckham have also been lucky enough to be given the accolade for the performances they produced on the pitch.
David Beckham received his OBE for services to football, which might surprise some people due to his charity work outside of the sport. Queen Elizabeth II named Beckham in her Birthday Honours List in 2003, around the time he was on the verge of leaving Manchester United.
At that point in his career, Beckham had already won the Premier League six times. He was also a two-time FA Cup winner and one-time Champions League winner. At the time, some of his greatest football moments had come in an England shirt, most notably in 2001 when his free-kick against Greece sent the Three Lions to the 2002 World Cup. The former England captain went on to play 115 games for his country, scoring 17 goals.
When did David Beckham get an OBE?
Queen Elizabeth II’s inclusion of David Beckham in her Birthday Honours List was announced on June 13, 2003. He officially received the OBE on November 27, 2003, when he attended a ceremony at Buckingham Palace alongside his wife Victoria.
“She [The Queen] asked if it was exhausting travelling around the world to play football matches, and I said, ‘No, because I am used to it now,'” Beckham said after the ceremony. “I know Her Majesty is a football fan because when I was at a Number 10 reception, the Prime Minister [Tony Blair] told me he had watched a World Cup game on television with The Queen and William and Harry.”
The day before the Buckingham Palace event, Beckham played for Real Madrid in front of 59,000 fans in Marseille. He scored the opening goal – a trademark free-kick – in the first half of the Champions League group-stage game. Mido equalised before Brazilian Ronaldo netted the winner in the second half to secure a 2-1 win for Real.
Sir David Beckham? Maybe one day…
Many people mistakenly think David Beckham has already received a knighthood. In fact, at a quiz event I once attended, quizzers were asked to name a famous sportsperson who had been knighted. The most popular answer? Sir David Beckham.
A patriotic royalist, Beckham queued for 12 hours to pay respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 at Westminster Hall. The Queen reportedly planned to make Beckham a Sir in 2014. However, he did not make the cut due to his alleged involvement in a tax avoidance scheme.
More than a dozen football icons have received knighthoods, including Beckham’s former manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Kenny Dalglish are among the other legendary Brits to be given the honour.