3 Nov 2012

Former Beckham teammate rejects PM's 'thick' quip

2:15 pm on 3 November 2012

A New Zealand football coach who has played alongside David Beckham says a quip by the Prime Minister that the football star is thick is not fair.

John Key made the comment to a group of students at Dunedin's St Hilda's Collegiate on Friday, saying his son spent 45 minutes with Beckham during the star's visit to New Zealand in 2008.

Mr Key said Beckham was handsome and a really nice guy to spend that long with his son, but was also "thick as batshit".

The Prime Minister's comments have attracted the attention of the British tabloids, featuring prominently on the websites of The Sun and the Mirror.

Wellington Phoenix goalkeeping coach and former British premier footballer Jonathan Gould says David Beckham is a bright lad - even if he's not the most articulate.

"The way he goes about his business as a professional on the park and the way he's set himself up as an individual off it - I think he's obviously quite an intelligent young man." He said Beckham had been an incredible ambassador for the game.

The British footballer, who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy team, is estimated to have earned more than $300 million from football and endorsements.

A spokesman for the Galaxy said only that the remarks don't matter, and refused to comment further.

Beckham came to New Zealand in December 2008 for an Oceania All Stars exhibition match which cost the Auckland region $1.8 million, just a month after John Key was first elected prime minister. Only 16,000 fans attended the match.