The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No. 23 breaks all records

Madrid: England captain David Beckham broke all records for replica shirt-sales on his first day as a Real Madrid player, the club told reporters on Thursday.

Club officials said its main souvenir shop alongside the Santiago Bernabeu sold 8,000 shirts No. 23 in little more than the seven hours on Wednesday.

Two hundred were sold in the first hour after Beckham had formally been presented with his new jersey by Real Madrid’s honorary president and legendary striker Alfredo di Stefano.

Then the numbers started to rocket once news spread around the Spanish capital that Beckham’s shirt was in stock.

Even the second and third team shirts, in black and grey, were gone by Wednesday evening. Real said that by the close of trading Wednesday, the shop had exhausted its initial supply of Beckham’s shirt.

To put Beckham on your back is not cheap. Real Madrid’s replica shirts are the most expensive of any club in the Spanish first division and cost 78 euros each, which is £54 for any English visitor. Beckham’s first day sales put all the other recent big signings in the shade.

On the first day that Ronaldo joined Real Madrid, 2,000 shirts had been sold. In 2001, only 300 shirts with Zinedine Zidane’s name and number were sold on the first day after the Frenchman’s world record transfer from Juventus was formally completed.

Not a single Luis Figo shirt was sold on his first day, owing to the fact that there was none in stock after problems with the delivery from the manufacturers.

Beckham’s shirt sales will please Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who has always admitted that he signed the former Manchester United player as much for his commercial pulling-power as his ability with the ball at his feet.

Perez hopes that part of Beckhams’ 35 million euros transfer fee will be paid off by replica shirt sales in the Asian market, where Beckham is even more of an icon than he is in Europe.

Counterfeit shirt manufacturers were also quick off the mark. Beckham’s shirts were already on sale by Wednesday evening in tourist traps such as Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, where street traders — usually illegal immigrants — display their wears on blankets strewn across the pavement.

One street trader was prepared to sell AFP — after some haggling — a slightly flawed pirate copy of Beckham’s replica shirt for 18 euros, less than a quarter of the price of the official version. (AFP)

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