David Beckham says filming his new series was “a real full circle moment for me” and evoked memories of playing football with his father as a boy.
The former England football star said his parents had always been “my biggest supporters” and that the Disney+ series had been an “emotional” reminder of the power of grassroots football clubs with local communities.
Titled Save Our Squad with David Beckham, it sees the 47-year-old return to his East London roots to mentor the under-14s Westward Boys, a young team who are at the bottom of their league and facing relegation.
The league – The Echo Premier League – is the same one that he played in as a young boy.
Beckham told the PA news agency that being involved in the series “was about giving back” and that working with the youngsters had reminded him that grassroots football clubs are as much about community as the game itself.
“I feel so lucky to have had the career that I’ve had and it all began with grassroots football and playing in the Echo League,” he told PA.
“To be able to come back home to East London where I grew up, and to work with this team and these amazing boys and coaches was a real full circle moment for me.
“For me, being involved in this series was about giving back.”
Beckham recalled his own experience growing up and playing with his dad, Ted Beckham, to hone his world famous free-kick.
“Returning to those muddy football pitches and parks, it definitely takes me back to when my dad would take me to the local park and we would kick the ball around for hours,” he said.
“He would have me practice free-kicks over and over again – hit that spot, hit that target. That’s where it all started for me.
“I had a great childhood and am lucky that I knew so young what I wanted to do in life and meeting these boys and seeing them share that same dream is so special.”
He added: “My dad has been my mentor throughout my life.
“I have always looked up to him and he and my mum were always my biggest supporters when I was growing up and first starting out in football.”
Beckham recently attended the premiere of Save Our Squad in London alongside members of his family and young players from the Westward Boys.
He told PA that it had been “emotional” working with the team as well as a “total privilege to see these boys developing into young men”.
“I learnt a lot from these boys – I learnt about their resilience,” he said.
“Having children myself, I know how kids go through emotions and ups and downs but with these boys, seeing some of the challenges they were facing and how they were standing up to them, I learnt that these are a strong and resilient group of boys.
“I wanted them to believe in themselves and I learnt that they really do.”
Beckham said he hoped to have taught the boys the value of hard work and having a “strong work ethic”.
“Also, who you are off the pitch is more important than what you are like on the pitch. It’s about being a good person, not just a good player,” he said.
Speaking about his own takeaways from the series, he said: “It reminded me that grassroots football is about more than the game, it is also about community.
“Young teams like the Westward Boys bring so much to the community around them, their families, their friends, their coaches.
“I’ve always known how special grassroots football is but making this series took me back to being in the heart of it after so many years, and it reminded me just how special and important grassroots football is to local communities.”
Save Our Squad with David Beckham is available on Disney+ from November 9.