Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Beckham faces day of judgment over more lurid reports

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

For millions around the world who worship and believe, today is the day of judgment. At some point in the next 24 hours, David Beckham is expected to respond to the succession of lurid allegations about his private life.

After an eighth day of fresh newspaper revelations -- more girls, more texts, more sex -- he is expected to reveal whether he intends to go to court dragging newspapers with him, or into purdah.

Yesterday followed what has become a familiar pattern for the England captain. While preparing for last night's match against Atletico Osasuna, which was watched from the stands by Mrs Beckham, he will have reflected on the latest "world exclusives" in the London-based News of The World newspaper.

There is no way of knowing in advance of his statement whether he slept with Sarah Marbeck, a barrister's daughter, after they met on a Manchester United tour in Singapore in July, 2001, or whether they traded explicit "sex texts" for more than a year. Only he can answer the claim that during the relationship he was known to Marbeck, 29, by the codename Peter Pan, that she was Tinkerbell and his wife, Wendy.

He alone knows whether he sent "raunchy" text messages to the model Esther Canadas. What will he make of last week's tormentor, his former personal assistant Rebecca Loos, who emerged once again having apparently sold her brand of text and sex to the News of the World for US$350,000? Will he care that Loos feels betrayed?

"I thought I was special to David and the only girl in the world this devoted family man would stray for," she said on Sunday.

"Now I know how wrong I was."

Amid accusations which, if true, damn him for being unfaithful to Loos, Beckham found support from the England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose own encounters with the News of The World evoked an unmistakable empathy. "All international players in England realize they have to live with this kind of thing," he told another newspaper. "He is very strong."

The England captain has won acclaim for his footballing prowess since his US$45.8 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid last July.

Since the switch Beckham has undergone a transformation from being a winger with an ability to take excellent free kicks to an accomplished and respected central midfielder.

And his influence has extended from the sporting arena to literature. Last week he won a special prize at the British Book Awards for his autobiography, My Side.

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