Photo: Mens Health/Anthony Madler
David Beckham is hailed as the world's greatest sporting icon in this month's edition of Men's Health.
"Beckham is, without a doubt, planetary," the magazine says. "As far as universally recognisable names in sports today, you have David Beckham. After him, who? Tiger Woods. That's about it. Even the big names in US sports - Tom Brady, LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez - are unknowns in international waters. But just about everyone, everywhere, knows who David Beckham is."
He reveals how a disparaging comment from a teacher when he was 13 set him on the path to greatness.
"You'll never play for England because you're too small and not strong enough," the teacher said.
Becks told Men´s Health: "As upset as I was at the time, it made me think, 'I'm going to prove I can play football professionally.' Back in those days, there were a lot of people who thought that to be a player in England, you had to have a full beard and be big enough to kick the ball as far as possible. It's changed now. I wish I could remember exactly which teacher said that to me."
He admitted to being "a really bad loser" but said his mantra is: "In the end, always be polite. Be honest. It's all about how you handle the situation."
And he said of his celebrity: "There is this madness around me, around my family. Without a doubt, out on the field is where I'm most comfortable, where I'm happiest, because I know what I'm doing and I know I can do it."
Nevertheless, Beckham attended the Teen Choice Awards in Hollywood on Sunday, where he was voted top male athlete.