David Beckham talks about ‘brutal’ reaction to World Cup sending off

David Beckham has spoken about the "brutal" reaction he faced following his 1998 World Cup sending off during a discussion about football's mental health culture.

Beckham was vilified by some fans and sections of the media after England were knocked out of the tournament by Argentina, following his red card for kicking out at an opponent.

The former England captain said he was supported by his club Manchester United and family but it was an era when players did not speak out if they were feeling the pressures of the game – and he kept his feelings hidden.

The celebrity was speaking during a video call convened by the Duke of Cambridge who has launched a declaration – signed by governing bodies, leagues and organisations from across UK football – to create a "mentally healthy culture" in the sport.

William (bottom right) hosts the discussion with Beckham and other football figures
William (bottom right) hosts the discussion with Beckham and other football figures (Heads Up)

These organisations will form a UK-wide mental health implementation group next season, working towards a collective "game plan" to prioritise the psychological wellbeing of everyone involved with football.

Beckham, who is now co-owner of the US football club Inter Miami, said about his infamous World Cup match: "I made a mistake you know, I made a mistake in '98 and the reaction at the time was pretty brutal.

"I was constantly criticised on the pitch verbally. Like I said at the start of this, times have changed. If social media was around when I was going through that time in '98, it would have been a whole different story.

"But I was lucky. I had a support system in Manchester United and the manager and obviously family, but did I feel at the time it was OK to (go to) someone and say 'I need help'?

"I would say no, no, it was a different era and I just felt I had to keep it all in and deal with it myself."

Beckham is shown the red card after a foul on Argentina's Diego Simeone
Beckham is shown the red card after a foul on Argentina's Diego Simeone (Adam Butler/PA)

William asked about his job supporting his players at Inter Miami and Beckham replied: "Without a doubt, my role has slightly changed from being a footballer to now being an owner and it's one thing obviously now being an owner of a football club, the most important thing to us is that our players feel protected.

"The pressures that your modern day athletes and footballers have, are taken care of, that's the most important thing.

"Of course we want to be successful, but more importantly, we want our players to be looked after."

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**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 06-10-2001 of England's captain David Beckham (front) celebrates with team-mate Emile Heskey after scoring the equaliser from a free kick against Greece in the dying seconds of the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group Nine match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 02-07-2003 of David Beckham (left) holds his new number 23 Real Madrid shirt presented to him by honorary president and former player Alfredo Di Stefano as he is formally unveiled at the basketball stadium next to the club's training ground in Madrid.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 02-07-2003 of Real Madrid's David Beckham stands in his new kit at the club's training ground, the Pebellon Raimundo Saporta Stadium in Madrid.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 30-06-1998 of England's David Beckham (L) is given the red card by Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen, after a foul on Argentina's Diego Simeone during their France '98 World Cup second round match held in St Etienne. argentina won the match 4-3 on penalties (2-2 after extra time).
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 04-02-2009 of AC Milan's David Beckham during the Mid-Season Friendly at Ibrox, Glasgow.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 29-11-2010 of David Beckham during a visit to the Olympic Stadium construction site, in Statford, east London.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 19-12-2010 of Winner of the Lifetime Achievement award, David Beckham during the BBC Sport Personality of the Year Awards at the LG Arena, Birmingham.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 31-01-2013 of Paris Saint Germain's David Beckham during the press conference at Parc des Princes, Paris.
**Embargoed until 0001 May 2, 2020** File photo dated 02-12-2012 of LA Galaxy's David Beckham poses his sons (left to right) Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo after winning the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center, Los Angeles, USA.
File photo dated 10-04-2002 of England captain and Manchester United midfielder David Beckham is carried off against Depotivo La Coruna during their European Chapions League Quarter Final.
Feb 26, 2020; New York, New York, USA; David Beckham and Jorge Mas managing owner of Inter Miami during the MLS 25th Season Kickoff at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
David Beckham speaks with the media as he visits the Inter Miami CF team at Inter Miami Stadium and Training Complex in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS/Sipa USA)
English footballer David Beckham attend a photocall for the sportswear brand Adidas 70th Anniversary Event at Time Square in Seoul, South Korea on October 9, 2019. (Photo by Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA)
David Beckham, Victoria Beckham and Brooklyn Beckham attend the GQ Men of the Year Awards held at the Tate Modern, Bankside in London. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Queen Elizabeth II meets (left to right) Sir John Major, Sir Lenny Henry and David Beckham at Buckingham Palace before the final Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony.
Mar 2, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; David Beckham (left) and wife and Spice Girls recording artist Victoria Beckahm pose during unveiling of Beckham statue at Legends Plaza at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Robbie Keane attends the LA Galaxy unveiling ceremony of a statue of legendary midfielder David Beckham at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 2, 2019 in Carson, California. Photo by Lionel Hahn/PA Wire
Mar 1, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; LA Galaxy retired midfielder David Beckham speaks during unveiling of the David Beckham Community Soccer Field at The Salvation Army Red Shield Youth and Community Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
(left to right) David Beckham, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Ben Thornley during the funeral service at Halifax Minster of Manchester United's former youth team coach Eric Harrison who died aged 81.
RETRANSMITTED REMOVING REFERENCE TO NICKY BUTT David Beckham (left) and Gary Neville (right) arriving at Halifax Minster ahead of the funeral of Manchester United's former youth team coach Eric Harrison who died aged 81.
David Beckham poses with the Salford City mascot Babs before the game
David Beckham watches the game between Salford City and Dover Athletic with son Romeo, during the Vanarama National League match at the Peninsula Stadium, Salford.
Phil Neville (left), David Beckham (centre), Romeo Beckham (second right) and Dave Gardner (right) before the Vanarama National League match at the Peninsula Stadium, Salford.
Phil Neville takes a selfie with (left-right) Dave Gardner, David Beckham and Romeo Beckham before the Vanarama National League match at the Peninsula Stadium, Salford.
File photo dated 30/11/14 of David and Victoria Beckham who has named among those who paid the most tax in the UK last year in the inaugural Sunday Times Tax List.
David and Victoria Beckham arrive at the Brasserie of Light at Selfridges in London, for the London Fashion Week Men's AW19 closing dinner.
David Beckham and Victoria Beckham attending the Fashion Awards in association with Swarovski held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London. Picture Credit Should Read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
David Beckham (right) and his son Romeo in the stands during day eight of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena, London.
David Beckham and his son Cruz leave after attending the Victoria Beckham London Fashion Week SS19 show in Dover Street, London.
May 19, 2018; Windsor, England, UK; Victoria Beckham and David Backham after the royal wedding at George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Mandatory Credit: Jason Dawson/Newsquest/USA TODAY NETWORK /Sipa USA **NO TABLOIDS**
David and Victoria Beckham followed by Johnny Wilkinson (left) arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Host Graham Norton, with (seated left to right) David Beckham, Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Vanessa Kirby and Joan Armatrading during filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks in London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION. Picture date: Thursday May 10, 2018. Photo credit should read: PA Images on behalf of So TV
KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 27: David Beckham and daughter are seen during the mens finals match during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2018 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Alberto E. Tamargo/Sipa USA)
David Beckham and Bella Hadid during the UEFA Champions League, round of 16, 2nd leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Real Madrid CF on March 6, 2018 at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah / NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
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The duke, who is president of the Football Association, also chatted to England and Manchester City Women's captain Steph Houghton, Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings, Crystal Palace and England midfielder Andros Townsend and managerial veteran Carlo Ancelotti, who is currently in charge at Everton Football Club.

The video call held earlier this month was made in support of William's Heads Up initiative which this season has been encouraging football fans to talk about issues in their lives or be a sympathetic ear for a fellow supporter.

The Duke of Cambridge reacts as his team wins a table football match at the launch of The Heads Up Weekends in London
The Duke of Cambridge reacts as his team wins a table football match at the launch of The Heads Up Weekends in London (Frank Augstein/PA)

The FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea is being staged on Saturday and has been renamed the Heads Up FA Cup Final, after the duke's campaign.

Speaking about the declaration signed by the football family William said: "We've managed to get the entire football community to sign up to promoting and showing how important mental health is in football and therefore hopefully in society through fans and things like that.

"And I think that's shown real leadership that we've got the Heads Up FA Cup Final renamed."

In a lighter moment, William concluded by addressing Ancelotti, saying: "And Carlo, last but not least to you... the wisest one of us all here, that's for sure."

It's official: this year's @EmiratesFACup Final has been renamed The #HeadsUpFACup 🏆

The Duke of Cambridge made the announcement on a call with the @arsenal team where they talked about how football clubs are supporting the wellbeing of players, staff & the community.#HeadsUppic.twitter.com/NUcW6nuikB

— Heads Together (@heads_together) June 12, 2020

The 61-year-old is one of only three managers to have won the Uefa Champions League three times – twice with Milan and once with Real Madrid.

Now manager of Merseyside club Everton, after winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2010, Ancelotti said he was encouraged by changing attitudes to mental health within the game but admitted it was "really rare" for players to speak to the manager about any issues.

"In my experience it is really rare that the players come to you and say 'mentally I am not good' – really rare, it never happens," he said.

"In the past few years something is changing."

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