The former English football icon, much like India’s cricket megastar, possessed a knack for shining on the grandest stages, and their exceptional skills in their respective sports harmonise seamlessly with their larger-than-life personas.
Beckham was present at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday as Kohli achieved his record 50th ODI hundred in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.
After witnessing Kohli’s masterful display with the bat during his inaugural visit to India, Beckham expressed his satisfaction at being able to witness “a piece of history.”
“It’s just a real pleasure to actually be in this stadium and witness a piece of history. You know obviously I’ve spent some time today with Sachin (Tendulkar) and I know what he achieved in this stadium and I know what he achieved for his country and the sport.
“But then to see Virat do it today. It is truly incredible. You can see the atmosphere at the stadium. I’ve come to India for the first time, at the right time,” Beckham told the official broadcaster, aptly summing up the mood.
The Manchester United and Real Madrid legend added, “I’ve been here for Diwali, and now I’m here for my first game in the World Cup and it’s very special.”
World Cup 2023 semifinal breaking: Virat Kohli scores 50th ODI ton, breaks Sachin Tendulkar’s record
Beckham is in India as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador — a role which he took up in 2005.
Before the game got underway, Beckham spoke with the Indian cricketers and played the football back to Kohli after receiving it from the batting mainstay while he was having a chat with Tendulkar on the ground.
“It’s first game at the World Cup and what a time to be here. I’ve been to some of the best stadiums in the world, and coming in here today, from the start, you knew it was something special.”
Kohli, who scored 117 off 113 deliveries, helped India post 397/4 in their 50 overs after opting to bat first.
(With PTI Inputs)