David and Victoria Beckham were curiously cryptic when they talked about a rough patch in their marriage. In the Netflix docuseries Beckham, they allude to allegations of infidelity in 2003 when the soccer great moved to Spain to play for Real Madrid, while the former Spice Girl stayed behind with their young children in London. 

“It was probably, if I’m being honest, the most unhappy I have ever been in my life,” Victoria says, adding, “It didn’t feel like we had each other.” Without naming names, David vaguely offers, “I don’t know how we got through it, in all honesty. Victoria is everything to me, to see her hurt was incredibly difficult, but we’re fighters and at that time, we needed to fight for each other, we needed to fight for our family.” 

What they didn’t say: That in 2004, David’s former personal assistant Rebecca Loos came forward claiming that she’d had a four-month affair with the 48-year-old. A few months later, two more women, Celina Laurie and Sarah Marbeck, also came forward, saying they’d had sex with him in 2001 and 2002, respectively. David called the allegations “ludicrous” at the time, adding, “The simple truth is that I am very happily married.” Two decades later, he’s not about to change his tune. “This is David’s story,” an insider tells Life & Style. “True or not, he’s sticking to it.”

Great Love

Posh and Becks, as they were dubbed after they got together in 1997, immediately drew media attention. He was a top player for Manchester United and she was part of the Spice Girls, who achieved nine U.K. No. 1 hits. At first, they tried to keep their romance on the QT, meeting up in parking lots and city parks. David remembered their first kiss was in his BMW, joking that it was “very classy.” (They wed in 1999 and went on to have four kids, Brooklyn, 24, Romeo, 21, Cruz, 18, and 12-year-old Harper.)

When the 49-year-old headed on tour, David despaired when he couldn’t see her. His friends recalled him driving for hours just to spend 20 minutes with his beloved and talking on the phone with her for hours every night. “He was infatuated,” says an insider. “He needed this relationship perhaps more than she did at the time.”

Betrayal and Forgiveness

But in 2004, Rebecca reportedly sold sexually explicit texts to a U.K. paper, saying he would text up to 30 times a day. She described their first hook-up. “I couldn’t wait to be alone with him and I knew he felt the same,” she said. “We dropped off the two other people and started kissing quite passionately all the way back to the hotel.” (Tellingly, the Beckhams never sought legal action against Rebecca, who went on to appear on several reality shows and is now married to a Norwegian doctor.)

Describing that time as a “circus,” Victoria says in the docuseries, “I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was and how it affected me.” The insider says David begged for forgiveness. “Victoria resented him for bringing scandal on their family, but she was still madly in love with him,” adds the insider. “She decided it wasn’t worth tearing their family apart over. Their family was worth fighting for, and that became their mantra.” Now that they’ve been married 24 years, they are at peace with the past. Says the insider, “They’ve weathered the storms and come out the other side.”