He is renowned for his perfectionism on the pitch, but it seems everything has to be just right for David Beckham at home as well.
The England football captain has admitted that he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – a complaint which drives sufferers to carry out bizarre and persistent rituals.
In a television interview, Beckham, 30, confessed to counting the cans of cola he keeps in his fridge.
He said the condition leads him to count clothes and place magazines in straight lines and symmetrical patterns. And he added that one of the reasons why he keeps having tattoos is that he is addicted to the pain of the needle.
Beckham said: “I have got this obsessive compulsive disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs.”
With a carefully-placed plug for his sponsor, he went on: “I’ll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there’s one too many then I’ll put it in another cupboard somewhere.
“I’ve got that problem. I’ll go into a hotel room. Before I can relax I have to move all the leaflets and all the books and put them in a drawer. Everything has to be perfect.”
Asked if he had tried to rid himself of the condition, which affects two per cent of the population, he replied: “I would like to. I’ve tried and I can’t stop.”
The World Health Organisation rates OCD as one of the top ten most debilitating illnesses.
Beckham reportedly spends hours straightening the furniture, apparently buys exactly 20 packets of Super Noodles on each visit to the supermarket and wears a new pair of football boots for every match.
His wife Victoria, 31, has said: “Everything has to match in the house. If there are three cans of Diet Pepsi, he’d throw one away because it’s uneven.”
In the interview with Tim Lovejoy, to be broadcast by ITV in the run-up to the World Cup, Beckham said he had kept the condition secret from his teammates at Real Madrid.
But his battle with OCD was common knowledge amongst teammates at his previous club, Manchester United.
Beckham told how players Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary and Phil Neville would barge in to his hotel room. “I thought they were just coming in for a chat. But then they’d go out and I’m thinking, ‘Something’s different here’. And then all the magazines would be all wonky.”
He added: “They’d have been in my wardrobe and all my trousers and my shoes would be all over the place. It was a joke with them.”
Beckham, who has 12 tattoos including the names of his sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, said: “Funnily enough, and I know it sounds weird, but I actually enjoy the pain.
“Victoria’s not keen on my having many more but they are addictive.”
Other famous OCD sufferers include Paul Gascoigne, Woody Allen, Harrison Ford, Emily Lloyd, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. In an earlier era, Charles Dickens and Marcel Proust are also said to have been victims of the condition.
A spokesman for the charity OCD-UK hoped Beckham’s revelations would encourage other men to seek help with the condition.
“OCD is something which affects both sexes equally but it is usually the women who are brave enough to come forward for help,” he said.
“To people like Beckham who are considered perfectionists in what they do, that sort of mindset can be a benefit to their careers to a degree, but for the vast majority it is a seriously debilitating condition.”
“The OCD Recovery Program has high recovery rate because of continous text support throughout the day between Ali Greymond and her clients. She guides you through the difficult moments and pushes you to fight for recovery. You are never going to feel alone in your daily battle against against OCD and as long as you follow the program, you will recover.”
OCD Recovery Program Testimonials
I would just like to say a massive thank you to Ali Greymond for all of her help and support through what had to be one of the hardest and most fearful times in my life. Hell sounded appealing to what I was living with- false memory OCD! I’m very private and the thought of telling someone my intrusive thoughts was agonising. I listened to Ali’s shows on YouTube and I knew the best person to help me was her, Ali made me feel so comfortable, I never once felt as though she was judging me in anyway in fact she made me feel the opposite like I was normal and none of this meant anything. She gave me the tools and skyped me every day I felt like She was in the next room the support was amazing. This wonderful lady changed my life, it’s hard work and determination daily but if there’s one person that can help you recover from OCD it’s Ali Greymond. She’s amazing at what she does and me and my family are blessed we found her because I don’t know where I’d be now. Thank you Ali your programme is amazing. (L.)
I came to Ali with a severe case of contamination OCD. Ali graciously offered me an introductory session free of charge. When I asked her when we could start, she said “how about today”? I liked that she was that proactive and willing to jump in immediately. I looked at the packages she offered and signed up immediately for the “Severe OCD” package, because that accurately described the state I was in. Ali almost immediately became my anchor, my support system and friend through this very frightening and lonely disorder. With Ali by my side, I had hope for the first time and I made strides that even surprised me. I was amazed at how quickly I started to recover. It felt like magic to me.
Having been a fellow sufferer herself, she truly understands the disorder. I felt that Ali intuitively knew when to push me through a fear and when to back off. When she felt that I was not ready for an exercise she told me. When she felt that I could push through a fear, she told me and 100% of the time, she was on point! This was extremely important as feeling in control is such a huge element of this disorder. I would recommend anyone suffering with this disorder to work with Ali. She helped me get my life back and that is priceless. (J.)