David Beckham digitally aged into his 70s in combating malaria campaign

David Beckham digitally aged into his 70s in combating malaria campaign

David Beckham is perhaps as famed for his looks as he is for his football career — but a new campaign is showing him as you’ve never seen him before.

The 45-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder has been given a digital makeover which imagines what Beckham might look like in his 70s.

It is part of a campaign from the British arm of US nonprofit Malaria No More, which says there is an agreement among scientists that malaria can be defeated within our lifetime.

Beckham, who also played for LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, appears to travel forward in time in a campaign video, which is encouraging people to share their support on social media.

Appearing as an older man — Beckham looks to have aged about 30 years — he tells an audience in the film that the world has defeated malaria — “humankind’s oldest and deadliest enemy” — to a round of applause.

The video then flits back to 2020, with the sportsman giving a sobering message.

“Right now, the fight is harder than ever. And as a father it breaks my heart that a child dies every two minutes from malaria,” he says.

“A future free from this disease is possible in our lifetimes. We must unite and tell our leaders that we won’t stop until the job is done. Join me and share to declare that malaria must die so millions can live.”

Malaria, which kills around 400,000 people a year — the majority children younger than five — is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of female mosquitoes. It is particularly prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is preventable and curable using mosquito nets and antimalarial drugs.

Malaria No More said in a press release that, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, it hoped the campaign would “reignite the belief that humankind is capable of uniting to defeat diseases.”

As well as his nonprofit work, Beckham is part of a five-person ownership team headed by Miami-born MasTec chairman Jorge Mas running MLS side Inter Miami.

The former England captain — Beckham played 58 times for his country — is a founding member of Malaria No More UK Leadership Council.

“The fight against malaria is a cause close to my heart because the disease remains a huge killer of children and we have the opportunity to change that in our lifetime,” said Beckham.

Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Program, added: “The emergence of Covid-19 has shown the world how critical our health systems are.

“It is crucial that 2021 sees the world getting back on track towards achieving existing targets to reduce malaria as we come through the pandemic.

“By investing in ending malaria, we will not only save lives that would otherwise be lost to this deadly disease; we will also protect current health systems.”