A life in tattoos: David Beckham's strange obsession with exhibitionist body art and the meanings behind each design
When pictures of David Beckham posing in skimpy underpants were published this week, it wasn’t just his muscles that commanded attention, but his startling array of tattoos.
Here, JULIA LAWRENCE charts how his obsession has grown over the years…
This picture of David Beckham posing in tight briefs for retail fashion chain H&M showed off not just his impressive physique but his huge number of tattoos
Lower back, Brooklyn, 1999: Beckham first went under the needle following the birth of his son, Brooklyn, after catching the bug from Spice Girl Mel B's then husband Jimmy Gulzar. The result was his son's name in Gothic script
Upper back, Guardian Angel, 2000: A year later, Beckham was back at the tattoo studio, this time for a giant guardian angel on his upper back. The angel was designed to watch over Brooklyn's name a few inches below – just in case Victoria, the bodyguards and nanny hadn't got the job covered
Left inner arm, Hindi letters, 2000: David pledged his devotion to wife Victoria with a tattoo of her name. Considering English lettering far too ordinary, he opted for Hindi script instead. It didn't go quite to plan – experts pointed out the tribute actually spelt 'Vihctoria'
Upper back, Romeo, 2002: When second son Romeo was born, David added his name above the guardian angel – who by then was sporting some impressive wings. The design is said to be the work of Manchester-based tattoo artist Louis Malloy
Right inner arm, Roman numerals, 2002: Shortly after Romeo's addition, David decided to get the number 7 tattooed on to his inner arm, written in Roman numerals. The number is special to him as it's his shirt number for Manchester United and England
Right and left inner arms, Roman lettering, 2003: This Latin-inspired double saw the phrases 'Ut Amem Et Foveam' (So That I Love and Cherish) inked below Victoria's name on his left arm and 'Perfectio in Spiritu' (Spiritual Perfection) onto his right. There were no dictionary slip-ups this time
Back of neck, winged cross, 2003: Following his transfer to Real Madrid, David reportedly flew tattooist Louis Malloy to Spain for the cross design on the back of his neck. 'It's religious iconography,' says Malloy. 'Like a protective talisman over his children. David just loves his tattoos. He's a very good customer'
Right arm, angel, 2004: A month after allegations of his affair with Rebecca Loos, David had a large angel design on his bicep, with the motto: 'In the Face of A dversity.' He said: 'Everybody's got a way of expressing their feelings, and mine is through my tattoos'
Centre of back, Cruz, 2005: Another baby, another trip to the tattoo parlour – third son Cruz joined his brothers' names on Dad's back, this time below the angel's feet
Right Wrist, Roman Numerals, 2006: Following a secret commitment ceremony in 2006, the Beckhams opted for a set of matching tattoos on their wrists: VIII .V.MMVI, standing for the date of the ceremony: May 8, 2006. A note on the kitchen calendar just wouldn't do, apparently
Right wrist, Roman Numerals, 2006: Following a secret commitment ceremony in 2006, the Beckhams opted for a set of matching tattoos on their wrists: VIII .V.MMVI, standing for the date of the ceremony: May 8, 2006. A note on the kitchen calendar just wouldn't do, apparently
Left Arm, Victoria, 2007: Becks had a six-inch tattoo that was a recreation of his favourite Brigitte-Bardot-style photo of Victoria inked on to his left arm. The phrase 'Forever /01/07/article-2083408-0F59187100000578-121_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Left Rib-Cage and left arm, Chinese motif and second 'sleeve', 2008: A busy year for Beckham body art” class=”blkBorder” />
Left rib-cage and left arm, Chinese motif and second 'sleeve', 2008: A busy year for Beckham body art. Becks unveiled a large Chinese motif, which translates as: 'Death and life have determined appointments. Riches and honour depend upon heaven.' And to match his right arm, he started colouring in the gaps on his left arm's design
Left arm, ring of roses, 2009: To mark his tenth wedding anniversary, David got 'ten roses around my arm, for the ten years'
Ribs, Jesus on the way to the cross, 2010: When his grandfather Joe West died, Becks paid tribute to him with a black and white image of Christ drawn on his side, based on the painting The Man Of Sorrows, by Catholic artist Matthew R. Brooks
Left upper chest, Jesus and cherubs, Harper, 2011: David added a portrait of Jesus – styled to look like Beckham – being lifted from his tomb by cherubs, said to be representations of his three sons. And when daughter Harper Seven arrived, the proud dad had her name etched above it
Left hand, love and swallow, 2011: Victoria broke the news of these latest tattoos three months ago, tweeting a picture that showed the word 'Love' had been added to Davids hand, beside the first of two swallow designs – supposedly a symbol of family love and loyalty. New baby Harper Seven can be seen gripping one of Dad's fingers