David Beckham was impressed by rapid changes in Vietnam since his last visit nine years ago as the retired football star arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday afternoon as part of his two-day visit to the country to promote a personal project.
“I was asked a question earlier, what was changed in nine years. Obviously, the cities in Vietnam has changed a lot in nine years but one thing that has not changed is how amazing the people are,” said the 38-year-old former Manchester United and England captain.
“Obviously, I am very excited to be in Vietnam. I was here nine years ago. So I am very excited to visit such a great country, two great cities in two days.”
Sharing his feelings at a meeting where no cameras, cell phones and questions are allowed, Beckham said that London shared with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City “amazing culture, city, history and heritage.”
“There are not many cities around the world with the history and heritage that Vietnam has. So I am very honored to be here again.”
Beckham said he would love to be able to go out for a walk around the street and taking the culture there.
“I do want to thank everybody for such a warm welcome since I’ve been in Vietnam, especially. The fans, the people, they have really been amazing and it just amazes me every time I visit different places around the world. The affections that the fans, the people showed me.”
And street foods in Hanoi and HCMC, which were among cities with best street foods around the world, have attracted the retired football star.
“I am looking for a dinner here tonight but one of the things I would like to do, if it’s possible, before I leave, to try some street food. I love food. At some point tonight, I may be in a cap and jean and walking around,” he said.
Asked about his feelings for Vietnam in comparison with other Asian countries, he said “Every time I’ve come to Asia, I get certain amount of energy from that.
“I’d love to bring my children back here one day. They are in school at the moment so they are not allowed to come out of school right now but at one point, I’d love to bring my children here to experience such an amazing culture,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Beckham arrived in Hanoi where he met with local entrepreneurs to promote his personal project.
This has marked Beckham's third trip to Vietnam, following the two visits in 2003 and 2005.
Beckham retired in May 2013 after refusing to extend a contract with Paris Saint Germain.
Born in 1975, Beckham's professional career began with Manchester United, where he made his first-team debut in 1992 at age 17. With United, Beckham won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999.
He also played for Real Madrid, Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain, and the England national team.
Renowned for his range of passing and bending free-kicks, he has twice been runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004 he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
Consistently ranked among the sport's highest earners, in 2013 Beckham was listed as the best paid player in the world, earning over $50 million in the previous 12 months.
In 1999, he got married to Victoria Beckham, who was then a member of the all-female pop group Spice Girls and was dubbed Posh Spice, and they have four children.
The former Manchester United midfielder has been the ambassador for a variety of organizations, which include Sky Sports, Adidas and UNICEF.