An‘unknown’ David Beckham helps kick off UNICEF tour in Papua New Guinea

David Beckham has delighted Papua New Guinean villagers by playing in an exhibition match as part of a global charity tour, although the Pacific nation’s sports minister conceded “a lot of them don’t know who this guy is”.

Former footballer David Beckham will be looking less James Bond and more professional athlete when he laces them up at Papua New Guinea to play locals for a UNICEF project. Trouble is natives probably do not realize who he is. Neil Hall / Reuters
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David Beckham has delighted Papua New Guinean villagers by playing in an exhibition match as part of a global charity tour, although the Pacific nation’s sports minister conceded “a lot of them don’t know who this guy is”.

The football legend and former England captain travelled to Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands province to kick off a seven-nation trip, taking part in a series of games to raise funds and awareness for the United Nations children agency Unicef.

Sports minister Justin Tkatchenko told The National newspaper in Papua New Guinea he was humbled that his country was the first port of call for the 40-year-old superstar, one year before his nation hosts the Fifa Under 20 Women’s World Cup.

But he added to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that some of the villagers playing with Beckham would not be aware who he is.

“Two local teams from two different villages here in Mount Hagen will be playing with him,” Tkatchenko told the ABC. “A lot of them don’t know who this guy is and how famous he is.

“But those who have access to social media and that play soccer and have the love for the sport are just over the moon.”

Beckham will also visit Antarctica, Argentina, Djibouti, Nepal and the United States before a final charity match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

The game will reunite him with his former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who will coach a Great Britain and Ireland XI captained by Beckham.

The game, on November 14, will also feature another of Beckham’s former managers, Carlo Ancelotti, with the Italian managing a Rest of the World XI led by former Real Madrid and France star Zinedine Zidane.

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