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Beckham for life, at £100 m
- Adidas offers footballer biggest contract in sports

He ain’t half as good as Zinedine Zidane but, boy, does he pull in the moolah'

David Beckham set an off-field record when it was revealed on Sunday that the football star has been offered a £100-million contract by German sportswear company Adidas.

It’s the priciest commercial deal in the history of sport, any sport. Until now, the golfer, Tiger Woods, owned the record when he putted a £70-million, eight-year deal with Nike.

Beckham’s footballing days are numbered at 28 — the next World Cup, in Germany, in 2006 may be his last, if he makes it that far — but the contract will run for life. Adidas believes it’s not football that maketh the man Beckham, but something else, that undefinable something which will run beyond his running days on field.

A report in the British tabloid Sunday Mirror said the England captain and recent import to arguably the world’s best club, Real Madrid, will get around £50 million as down payment under a lifelong contract.

Beckham will also get a percentage of profits from the sale of sportswear and lucrative payments for promotional and public relations work.

After he quits football, Beckham will remain a brand ambassador for Adidas.

His current deal with Adidas has around three more years to run, but the company thinks he’s a safe bet to enter into a till-death-do-us-part vow with. It was not known if wife Victoria Posh Beckham felt envious about the clause — having taken this vow herself with Becks.

Commentators have said it’s Posh that maketh Beckham the man and the brand, with frequent changes in hairstyle — now shaven, now twin ponytails (the latest) — and all the rest of it.

“At the moment, we are discussing David’s future role with the company. He has a contract and that is up for discussion. But we expect the next contract will be for the rest of his career and beyond,” Thomas van Schalk, Adidas’ global football executive, told the Mirror.

“David Beckham is the most popular athlete ever,” said van Schalk. “There are a number of athletes that transcend their sport, like Tiger woods and Michael Jordan —but they’re not half as big as Beckham.”

Jordan, the basketball sensation, was reported to have commanded only about £45 million, from Nike, when at peak.

Even the greatest pale before Beckham, according to Adidas. “Muhammad Ali was under contract with Adidas but even he can’t come close to Beckham,” van Schalk said.

The footballer’s loyalty to Adidas appears to be stronger than what it was to his English club Manchester United that he left this season to play in Spain. From the age of 12, he has been wearing Adidas footwear and joined the company on a professional contract when he was 20. It looks like he’s going to keep sporting it for some time to come.

Apparently, he sells more products on his own than all of Adidas’ other endorsers put together, the Mirror said.

But then Beckham himself earns a great deal more from selling other things than his footballing skills. Real Madrid bought him for £24.5 million, nearly half of what it paid for Zidane at £45.8 million.

Zidane, alas, can only spin magic with his feet. And, by the way, he’s balding with no hope of ever sporting a double ponytail.

With agency reports

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