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BECKS TO BECKS; Mirror's David Beckham correspondent comes face to face with the real man.

Byline: STEPHEN MOYES David Beckham Correspondent

I MOVED in on my man like a tough Spanish defender confronting the opposition's star forward.

Suddenly we were face to face - the David Beckham Correspondent and Becks himself.

Real Madrid's new superstar said my job was a "nice compliment" to him, and I didn't try to challenge that.

The Becks to Becks meeting came at a packed news conference yesterday in Kunming, southern China, where the Spanish club are on a pre-season tour.

Turning to me, Beckham said: "Well I found out about you three weeks ago, that you are coming out to Madrid.

"Obviously it is a compliment, because I don't think many people get that and it is nice to have.

"Being in Madrid is an exciting challenge and something I am looking forward to."

As 1.6 billion TV viewers tuned in and 350 journalists watched, Beckham showed off a few Spanish phrases - learned while having a massage with Real striker Raul.

Giggling shyly, the 28-year-old England captain said: "Raul was speaking English and I was trying to speak a bit of Spanish. I've learnt a few words - hola, gracias, muchos gracias, si, solo, cuidado"...meaning hello, thank you, thank you very much, yes, only and take care.

As the Spanish press laughed, wolf-whistled and clapped, Becks added: "I know a few other words too, but I can't think of any. Roberto Carlos has been teaching me a few things in Spanish which I cannot say here. But it's going quite well."

He said: "It's important for me to learn Spanish as quickly as possible. The players are helping me. I am helping them speak a bit of English."

Beckham is keeping in touch by phone with wife Victoria, sons Brooklyn and Romeo, and old Man Utd mates. In a Real tracksuit and with his hair in a double ponytail, he said: "All the players are the same. Everyone misses their families when they are away.

"But we stick together and have a lot of fun. That's the way you get through when you are away from your family." He had raised eyebrows on Tuesday by sprinting off the pitch after a practice match.

Becks explained: "A few of the players have had funny tummies, so that's what that was. But I wasn't being sick."


FOCUS: Becks at news conference; Pictures: BRADLEY ORMESHER
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2003
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