Former Manchester United and England midfielder David Beckham, 47, has had a big life — so it makes sense that he’d want to document the highlights in a unique way. David is known for having so many tattoos that it’s almost difficult to know where one ends, and another begins. Consequently, it’s almost impossible to know exactly how many individual pieces of ink David has, but Men’s Health estimates it’s somewhere between 60 and 80.
David himself revealed that the tattoos have deep personal meaning to him. In a 2016 commercial for his collaboration with Biotherm Homme skincare, he spoke about some of them, saying that “The story of my life is written on my skin. Don’t expect to read it on my face.” Read on to learn more about David’s impressive collection of body ink below.
Brooklyn, Cruz, Romeo, & Harper
David’s three sons and one daughter are naturally the inspiration for some of his most cherished tattoos. His oldest, Brooklyn Beckham, is honored with his nickname, “Buster,” on the right side of David’s neck, while the left side of his neck is reserved for youngest child Harper Beckham, whose first name appears in cursive alongside the words “pretty lady,” the phrase “I love you,” and a rose. David’s sons also appear on his back amid an angel suspended in a crucifix pose — Romeo Beckham‘s first name is inked on his neck, Cruz Beckham halfway down his back, and “Brooklyn” is at the bottom.
David’s sons appear again in an elaborate, religiously symbolic tattoo on the left side of his chest. In it, three cherubs representing his three boys appear to be lifting Jesus from a tomb. Per Men’s Health, David said in a Facebook video that the tattoo represents “Jesus being carried by three cherubs and obviously the cherubs are boys. My thought of it is, at some point my boys are going to need to look after me and that’s what they’re doing in the picture.”
Harper gets another nod on David’s right palm with a stick figure she apparently drew, alongside a heart. “I was watching Harper draw one day,” he said in the Biotherm Homme commercial. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna have it tattooed on me.'”
Lady in a forest
On the opposite side of the footballer’s cherubs and Jesus is a mysterious lady in a forest, and Becks also has another cross tattooed at the top of his sternum. David hasn’t commented publicly on the meaning of the lady immersed in the forest of trees.
David has a ship tattooed under his right armpit, reportedly in honor of his father, Ted Beckham, who shares a matching tattoo.
More Biblical and religious imagery
Along his right side, David has an image of Jesus with a halo sitting a cross, hands clasped in front– this is reportedly the tattoo that honors his maternal grandfather, the late Joe West, the father of David’s mother, Sandra Beckham. This tattoo is apparently based on the Matthew R. Brooks painting The Man of Sorrows.
David has a complete right arm sleeve, beginning at the shoulder with an angel alongside the phrase “In the Face of Adversity,” which reportedly references the consequences of a highly publicized affair with an assistant back in 2004. He has additional cherub ink, again for his sons, on his right bicep, while his forearm features detailed clouds and another angel with the phrases “Let Them Hate As Long as Long As They Fear,” and “Pray For Me.” The latter was reportedly added when he made the pivotal move from Manchester United to LA Galaxy. There are two more cherubs pictured running on lower left leg, reportedly done by artist Mark Mahoney in 2016. David documented the addition on his own Instagram feed, calling it a “nice little shin piece.”
A cross with wings in gothic style appears above Romeo’s name on the back of David’s neck and acts as a “protective talisman,” according to Body Art Guru. On his right ribcage is a long Biblical passage, though the words are difficult to make out.
In honor of Victoria
It should come as no surprise that David has several tattoos that honor his wife of 19 years, Victoria Beckham, 48. The former Spice Girl and current fashion designer serves as the inspiration for a large portion of the athlete’s left ink sleeve, which begins at the top with Renaissance style art of a Cupid taking wife Psyche up to heaven. Below are ten roses, a dark section spangled with lighter stars, and an image of Victoria surrounded by foliage and the words “Ut Amem Et Foveam” (“to love and cherish”), as well as the Hebrew phrase for “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” and yet another rose. David’s tribute to the mother of his children also includes her name in Sanskrit and the words “Forever By Your Side.”
David has a rose on his throat, the words “dadda do it, and a black horse, which also reportedly represents Victoria. On his right hand, her name shows up again in cursive with a hummingbird and the phrase “Dream Big Be Unrealistic,” a nod to Jay-Z’s famed concert quote from his On The Run tour with Beyonce. “My Love” also appears on his hand, as does the number “99” to commemorate his July 4, 1999 wedding date. And finally, David and Victoria share matching tattoos with the Latin phrase ‘de integro’ on their wrists, which roughly means, “again from the start,” along with the Roman numeral date of May 8, 2006. According to Body Art Guru, they had a private commitment ceremony on that date.
On his right forearm, David has a Roman Numeral VII, which calls out his jersey number from Manchester United and England National Team, according to Body Art Guru. The Latin words “Perfectio In Spiritu” accompany this tattoo, meaning “spiritual perfection.” The 32 on his right hand, near the hummingbird, represents his jersey number for the AC Milan Club in 2009. The “723” on his left hand again represents the 7 jersey and the 23 is for his Real Madrid and LA Galaxy jerseys.
Eagle in flight
In 2015, David documented via Instagram that he got an eagle in flight under his left armpit. This tattoo was also done by Mark Mahoney. “Just another… RISE ABOVE @shamrocksocialclub” he captioned the August 5, 2015 pic.
Parents and family
David has a “Lead with Love” and “Love” tattoo on his left hand, bookended by images of two swallows. Per Body Art Guru, the 2011 tattoos stand for loyalty, love, and familial devotion, while the swallows symbolize emotions towards family and loved ones.
On his left ribcage is a cluster of small, meaningful tattoos, including his birth year of “1975,” as well as the words “We love you Daddy” in common handwriting and “Mum & Dad” in cursive.
The Chinese Proverb tattoo
David’s left torso sports a Chinese proverb meaning “life and death have determined appointments; riches and honor depend upon heaven,” according to Body Art Guru. The passage reportedly comes directly from Confucius’ The Analects.
Additional animal imagery
There are two small birds alongside the left of David’s neck, a lion’s visage on his leg, and another bird on his left calf.
Solar System tattoo
David got a Solar System tattoo on the left side of his scalp in 2018. It’s rarely visible, due to the fact that his hair grows over the top of it.
There is another heart, a very small one, on the footballer’s left ear.
Native American chief
David got a Native American Chief tattoo on his left ribcage, underneath the eagle in flight, in 2015. Mark Mahoney was also responsible for this tattoo.