David Beckham said he “knew what it meant to represent the Queen” after queuing for 13 hours to see the late monarch lying in state.
The former Manchester United and England captain revealed he joined the five-mile public line at 2.15am on Friday before paying his respects at Westminster Hall in London just after 3.15pm.
An emotional Beckham appeared to wipe away a tear before nodding his head towards the Queen’s coffin.
Last weekend’s football programme was cancelled in honour of the Queen, with the Premier League restarting on Friday evening with matches at Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa.
“There should always be respect paid to our Queen in the country in this time of mourning,” Beckham, who played 115 times for the Three Lions, told the PA news agency.
“But speaking as an ex-football player and an ex-England captain I know what it meant for us to step out on that field to represent our Queen and our country and the Three Lions.
“And when we are out there it gives us the opportunity to celebrate in a way that only football can and only football fans can.”
Beckham was appointed an OBE for his services to football in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2003. He also met the Queen on several occasions.
Beckham, 47, added: “It is emotional for everybody involved. Her Majesty was someone special and will be missed just by everyone.
“Anytime throughout my career when I’ve been asked to do anything regarding the Royal Family, Her Majesty, the Princes, our King now, I have always very willing to do that.
“I grew up in a family that were royalists. Today I think back to my grandparents because if my grandparents were alive they would have been here so it’s nice to be here to celebrate with everybody the life of Her Majesty and the legacy that she leaves.”