David Beckham's life in Paris
04:11 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Beckham speaks of the sacrifice he suffers being in Paris while his family are in London

PSG star calls Barca one of the best teams in history and rates Messi above Cristiano Ronaldo

Former England captain speaks of his hopes of adding to his 115 international caps

CNN  — 

He may be one of the most famous faces on the planet and earning in excess of $46 million a year, according to France Football magazine, but David Beckham admits he does not have it all.

In an interview with CNN, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has spoken of the daily anguish he suffers while living in France.

For the former England captain, preparing for Tuesday’s glamour Champions League quarterfinal clash with Barcelona, is finding it hard to be apart from his wife Victoria and their four children, all of whom are now based in London.

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He may be living in one of Paris’ finest hotels, occupying a suite at Le Bristol that features marble bathrooms and one of the world’s best chefs and costs thousands of dollars per night, but Beckham says he has an even higher price to pay by staying in the French capital.

“That’s the sacrifice I have to make as a father and as a husband: being away from my family,” he told CNN.

“It is only for a short time, but it’s difficult being away from the children every single day. But they understand it. They understand that Daddy works hard.”

Beckham says that his eldest child, 14-year-old Brooklyn, is also beginning to understand the limitations of having one of the world’s biggest celebrities as a father.

“My eldest now is at the age where he wants to do things and go to places, and we have to hold him back,” said the recently appointed ambassador for Chinese football.

“You have to explain to him that there are certain things that he can’t do. But to be honest, we let our children do 99% of the things they want to do, because we want them to lead a normal life.”

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star joined the French side in January, and although the original deal was for five months only, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelafi told French daily L’Equipe on Monday that he is keen to retain Beckham’s services for next season as well.

The club’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti has also indicated a desire to retain Beckham, who makes the short flight home to the city of his birth on a regular basis to spend time with his kids, who go to school in the English capital.

Such overtures may leave Beckham with a difficult decision to make when his deal expires in May, but with his wife keen to settle back in London after nearly a decade away – following stays in Spain and LA Galaxy in the United States – and the footballer saying he will never play for any English club other than Manchester United, the proximity of Paris may well be his best option.

And there’s no denying that the 1999 Champions League winner is relishing his return to the limelight of European football’s finest competition in the twilight of his career.

“To be asked to come and play here was obviously an honor and something that I was excited about. They have big plans at the club, and rightly so,” said a man who has made six PSG appearances, all but two of which have come as a substitute.

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“Paris is an amazing city, amazing culture. The club has not been around for many years, and the success that they want to achieve is doable.”

Founded in 1970, PSG faces one of the biggest nights in its history when hosting four-time European champions Barcelona, who last won the Champions League in 2011, on Tuesday.

With Lionel Messi continually making his case to be regarded as the greatest player in history and coach Tito Vilanova having returned after cancer treatment in New York, knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League would be one of the biggest achievements for a club that has never been crowned the kings of Europe.

“Without doubt, they are one of the best teams ever,” said Beckham, who played for Barca’s great rivals Real Madrid between 2003 and 2007.

“They’ve got some of the best players individually and collectively, and I think that’s what makes them the team they are. It’s not about just Messi or Xavi; they have a unit that works together so well. That’s why they’ve been successful over the years.

“They’ve got the best player in the world in their team (Messi), they’ve got committed players, and that’s what makes them a special team.

“It’s a huge test for us, a huge game for this club and for this city.”

To date, the most important European trophy claimed by PSG is the now-defunct Cup Winners Cup, which the Parisians lifted in 1996, but the club’s Qatari owners, who have spent heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura and Thiago Silva to name but a few, are hoping their massive injections of cash can change all that.

“Being part of a club that is looking to the future and looking to become a bigger success than they have in the last few years – I wanted to be part of that,” said Beckham of his decision to join PSG, which has two solitary league titles (1986, 1994).

And a man who has played at three World Cups for England has not ruled out adding to his 115 caps, a tally no other outfield player in the long history of the 1966 world champions can beat.

“One of the reasons why I’ve never retired from the England team is because if there’s ever an opportunity to play for them again, then I’m available,” he said.

“If there is any chance of me ever playing for my country again, I would never turn that down.

“I’m almost 38 years old, so the chances are very slight, but you never know,” said a man approaching middle age but whose childhood dreams remain strong.