David Beckham has admitted that he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. The footballer has spoken for the first time of his addiction to rearranging hotel rooms and lining up cans of soft drinks to make “everything perfect”.
In a television interview to be screened before the World Cup this summer, Beckham says he has tried to break his cycle of repetitive behaviour but cannot stop. OCD, as it is known, affects one in 60 people in Britain, ranging from mild traits to a debilitating dependency on rituals of cleanliness, symmetry or other issues.
In the interview, to be broadcast on ITV1, he said: “I’ve got this obsessive compulsive disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs. I’ll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there’s one too many then I’ll put it in another cupboard somewhere.
“I’ll go into a hotel room and before I can relax, I have to move all the leaflets and all the books and put them in a drawer. Everything has to be perfect.” Asked if he wanted to stop his obsessive behaviour, he said: “I would like to. I’ve tried and can’t stop.” Beckham admitted he was also addicted to having tattoos, partly because he enjoys the pain.
The England captain said that his wife, Victoria, calls him a “weirdo” because of his condition.
Newspapers have delighted in stories of Beckham’s eccentric behaviour, with reports that he wears white clothes to match his furniture, buys 30 pairs of identical Calvin Klein underpants every fortnight and insists on lining up his shirts according to colour.
Mrs Beckham, who has revealed her husband’s inner secrets before, recently told one interviewer: “He’s got that obsessive compulsive thing where everything has to match. If you open our fridge, it’s all co-ordinated down either side. We’ve got three fridges – food in one, salad in another and drinks in the third. In the drinks one, everything is symmetrical. If there’s three cans, he’ll throw one away because it has to be an even number. ”
Beckham said that his teammates at Real Madrid were unaware of his condition, but that players at his former club, Manchester United, would deliberately rearrange his clothes in hotel rooms or move magazines around to make them “wonky” to infuriate him.
Beckham is not the first footballer to admit to suffering from OCD, which is estimated to affect more than two million people at some point in their lives.
The former England star Paul Gascoigne said last year that he was obsessed with cleanliness and needed help for the condition.
Other famous sufferers include the actor Billy Bob Thornton, who has spoken of having to repeat words and count up to particular numbers, and the singer Natalie Appleton, who is obsessed with cleanliness and broke down in tears when she had to touch a tree on the reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
A spokesman for the charity OCD UK said: “There is still a lot of stigma about the condition and even GPs are not very good at picking up on it. Young men in particular are often reluctant to come forward and ask for treatment, so to have someone like David Beckham come out and talk about it is very good.”