Romeo Beckham can cross a ball like his superstar dad David, puts in hours of extra work in training and shies away from the spotlight… but can he make it pro? DailyMail.com speaks to his Brentford B coaches to find out
- Brentford B coach Neil MacFarlane spoke exclusively to DailyMail.com
- He wants to keep Romeo Beckham at the club when his Inter Miami loan ends
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
This week in west London, the brains and bigwigs at Brentford gathered for another round of recruitment meetings. Minds are already drifting towards next season and that means decisions cannot wait. Among the items on the agenda: the B-team and the B-word.
Just over four months have passed since Romeo Beckham first stepped off the team bus, down into the dark corridors beneath Park View Road, and out into the glare of English soccer.
Since David Beckham – hood up against the rain, face obscured from the cameras – snuck in a side gate to watch his 20-year-old son, Brentford B’s new No 21, take small steps towards the edge of his shadow. Since Romeo swapped South Beach for south east London and the squelching surrounds of England’s ninth tier.
That January trip to semi-pro side Erith and Belvedere, for the London Senior Cup second round, marked the start of another chapter for one of soccer’s most storied dynasties. The latest leg in a curious career that began at Arsenal and reaches another crucial juncture tonight.
Brentford B’s clash with Manchester City at the Gtech Community Stadium will bring the curtain down on a successful campaign for the team, who recently lifted the Premier League Cup. It is supposed to mark the end of Beckham’s half-season loan from Inter Miami II, too. Except?
Romeo Beckham’s set-piece technique is similar to that of his very famous father David
David Beckham is pictured taking a free-kick for Manchester United in August 1999
Romeo poses for a photograph with dad David and mum Victoria on coronation weekend
‘He has been a pivotal member of what has been a special group this year,’ Brentford B boss Neil MacFarlane tells DailyMail.com. ‘There will be a decision made on Romeo. I have no qualms in putting my name to him – I want to help his development again… I’d have no problem whatsoever if he was to stay here and we continue his development at Brentford.’
Beckham is still playing catch-up. After a brief spell in Arsenal’s academy, nearly a decade ago, the youngster took a few years out of soccer. He kept busy, modelling for Burberry, learning tennis with Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov, growing up in a world of superyachts, supermodels and superstars.
Then, in 2021, he joined the reserve set-up at Inter Miami, the MLS upstart co-owned by David.
Their glistening training complex sits next to an executive airport and stretches over 50,000-sq foot of Florida greenery. Last year, the slight, right-sided midfielder racked up a league-high 10 assists.
And then, in the off-season, opportunity knocked. Beckham was afforded the chance to train with Brentford B and maintain his fitness. But MacFarlane was immediately struck by the youngster’s mentality.
‘He’s just a young kid who wants to learn,’ another source says. So a deal was done for Beckham to stay until the end of the 2022-23 season. His father was instrumental: David Beckham has known Lee Dykes – Brentford’s technical director – for a while and talks between them ended in an agreement that suits both parties.
Beckham lives a low-key life off the field with his girlfriend and dog, while trying to make it pro
Brentford’s social media team are keen to keep their superstar youngster front and center
Romeo (L) grew up watching his dad play for England, as well as club sides around the world
Romeo’s presence has brought wider benefits for the club – ‘more eyes on the B team,’ MacFarlane says. ‘Bigger crowds which just adds to the experience of the boys’.
But Brentford are not a club who chase gimmicks or cheap publicity. ‘It wasn’t a PR stunt in any way,’ director of football Phil Giles insisted recently. ‘Had he come in and been like, “I’m a Beckham,” that would have been a disaster for us.
‘But he is not like that at all, he’s like his dad in that he is a humble guy with a good work ethic and wants to do extra hours on the training round. Sometimes he has to be held back a bit from that.’
MacFarlane adds: ‘We liked what we saw… he’s a really, really top young man. He’s really bought into our culture, our work ethic, our standards.’
The importance of hard work is drilled into players every day. ‘I’m a really demanding, intense coach and he has really bought into that,’ MacFarlane adds.
‘You look at how people behave around the place – at the end of the sessions, the small details: tidying up, cleaning up… that’s the kind of thing we look for the players to adhere to.’ Why?
‘Because we’re trying to make them good professionals – hopefully have a really good career with longevity – but also good human beings… and he certainly fits into that category. At no point has Beckham leant on his name, or demanded to be treated differently.’
His coaches his praised his workrate and his dedication, putting in hours of work in training
At times this season, the Beckham youngster has struggled to make it into the starting XI
MacFarlane hasn’t even felt the need to address the added attention: ‘It was more a case of taking that pressure away from him and letting him enjoy his football.’
Instead Romeo has integrated himself within a squad that contains several other sons of famous fathers: Beckham has grown particularly close to Max Dickov, whose dad Paul played for Manchester City and Scotland, and Max Wilcox, the son of ex-England winger Jason Wilcox.
Aaron Pressley (son of Steven) and Kyreece Lisbie (son of Kevin) also come from rich stock. It’s not a deliberate policy for Brentford but one source senses that ‘those dads recognize that being part of the B team here is a good opportunity.’
And MacFarlane believes the children of ex-players tend to be good characters who drive standards. Beckham has proven no different.
‘That’s what made me really push to keep him,’ the manager says. ‘I felt we could develop him on the pitch but off it he would marry what I already have.’
For all his human qualities, however, it will be Beckham’s soccer that ultimately decides where his journey ends. Wherever that next step takes him, the same questions will follow: but how good is he really? And will he actually make it?
Brentford’s coaches would like to keep him at the club beyond his loan spell from Inter Miami II
David and Cruz recently missed his cup win with Brentford, instead going to the Bernabeu
‘We don’t really put any major pressure on any of the players,’ says MacFarlane, whose side have a track record of producing first-teamers for Brentford and others. Beckham came off the bench for his debut at Erith and Belvedere and it was from the debris of his corner that Brentford sparked a late comeback.
‘He can deliver the ball on a six-pence,’ the manager adds. ‘He can deliver from set plays which is a big feature of this club.’
Beckham played right wing back that night but has tended to play further forward. His crossing – what else? – has stood out, while coaches have worked hard to develop him off the ball.
The midfielder has struggled to cement a regular starting spot; he did not even get on during the Premier League Cup final against Blackburn. But he has been a valued member of the squad who chips in with vital contributions. Such as against Wealdstone in February, when Beckham netted a last-minute winner.
‘He came off the bench and showed an unbelievable attitude in a game that was really tight,’ MacFarlane recalls. His family missed this month’s final – David and youngest son Cruz were at the Bernabeu for Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.
Romeo’s ‘unbelievable attitude’ has been hailed by Brentford coaches during his loan spell
They have, though, turned up to several games – more than some expected, anyway. David braved the rain and kids and attention to be at Romeo’s debut. He has popped up at Hendon and for their game against Fulham, too.
First-team boss Thomas Frank keeps an eye out, too. He is close to MacFarlane and the two squads mingle during training and in-house games. Back in January, Frank described Romeo as an ‘interesting player’ and did not rule out progress to his squad. The reality, though?
‘We are not going to get everybody through,’ MacFarlane says. Especially with Brentford’s first team chasing a European spot. But the B team was set up to mine for diamonds – aged 17-21 – who might have slipped through the net of soccer’s traditional academy setup. They don’t compete in a league; they organize their own matches instead. And most importantly?
‘They get opportunities, they get eyes on them every day,’ MacFarlane says. ‘The boys have to jump through the gate and grab that opportunity.’
Robert Rowan, the club’s technical director who in 2018 tragically died aged just 28, was a key figure in the formation of the B team which gave Beckham this break. On Friday, the first ever Robert Rowan Invitational will close Brentford B’s season and mark the end of Beckham’s first spell of senior soccer in his homeland.
MacFarlane and his staff and his players will then gather for a meal. ‘They deserve to be recognized and celebrated,’ the manager says. ‘They’ve been absolutely exceptional – Romeo included.’
And soon Brentford and Beckham will decide if this is goodbye.
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