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Since 1st March, 1999
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Britain follows in Becks’ steps
- Couple moves to Madrid with media attention fit for Queen
LIKELY SUCCESSORS: (Clockwise from top left) Prince William, qualified but where's the girlfriend'; singer Kylie Minogue is hot but no one likes boyfriend Oliver Martinez who's French; actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin makes a nice couple but don't have the charisma.

London, July 2: David Beckham’s celebrity status has been enhanced, not diminished, by his move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.

If Day One — the papers called it “Madness in Madrid” — is anything to go by, a posse of journalists, including a large contingent from Britain, will ensure that the poor man will probably not even be allowed to answer the call of nature without being followed by paparazzi.

There was a time when the Queen went abroad, she was accompanied by a respectful British press party. This grew in size and rowdiness when Princess Diana arrived on the scene.

Today, there is some substance in the joke that Posh & Becks, as Beckham and his pop singer wife, Victoria, are called, represent the new royalty. They were certainly treated as such in Spain following Beckham’s decision to sign a four-year contract which will cost Real Madrid in the region of £25 million.

It was suggested today that Beckham’s job is not so much to play football — at 28, some are questioning his soccer skills — but to make money. As such, Real Madrid will do all in its power to exploit the product in which it has invested so heavily.

This, in turn, will mean that although Beckham is gone from Manchester United, the British will see even more of him. As a money-making machine, Beckham Inc has swung into action.

No detail, however banal, will go unreported.

“The mania and the money-making kick off as Beckham arrives in Madrid”, the Independent reported today.

The purpose of yesterday’s trip was medical to ensure Beckham was fit. “There were more journalists and cameras outside the Zarzuela clinic waiting for the result of David Beckham’s medical than there were outside the Parkland Infirmary in Dallas 40 years ago waiting to be told whether the President of the United States was alive or dead,” added the paper. “It is that kind of world.”

With his white jacket and white shirt, Beckham wore a torn pair of jeans. But some people in Spain are obviously not up with fashion. One girl at the offices of Marca, Spain’s biggest selling sports daily, said: “I don’t understand it. He has all that money and he wears torn trousers.”

Beckham and his wife and their son Brooklyn travelled from Britain in a hired six-seater Gulfstream Jet. It seems Beckham is moving into the Lakshmi Mittal class — the Indian steel tycoon has his own Gulfstream Jet and it’s bigger. It has been reported that Victoria would like to buy her own jet to facilitate all the flying backwards and forwards between Britain and Spain.

Many papers have published a picture of a bare-chested Beckham on his hotel balcony. The Daily Express could not resist the headline, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo”.

Express readers will understand the reference. The younger Beckham child has been called Romeo.

On the sports pages, the headline was, “Carry on doctor”. Every aspect of his medical was filmed and the information posted on Real Madrid’s website.

“At the end of an extraordinary day, it was perhaps fitting that Beckham rested his head in the £1,200-a-night presidential suite”, the Express reported. “Few heads of state would have stirred as much interest as this working-class boy from Leytonstone.”

Working class he might be but as the Mirror said: “Becksmania hits Madrid. David Beckham arrived in Madrid to a hysterical welcome as doctors declared him as ‘healthy and strong as a bull’.”

It was left to the Sun to inject its own distinctive touch to the proceedings. It showed a picture of a nurse pulling on a pair of rubber gloves, alongside the headline: “Bend over Beckham!”

In purely financial terms, it does seem Victoria has made a wise decision in telling her husband to make the switch from Manchester United to Real Madrid. No one doubts she wears the designer trousers in the Beckham household.

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