Three days after admitting to suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), footballer David Beckham has revealed that, in addition to feeling uneasy when there's one two many Pepsi cans in his fridge or when the chairs in his living room are arranged assymetrically, the condition is also affecting his footballing performances.
The England and Real Madrid star said his problem frequently compels him to carry out bizarre and persistent rituals on the field of play, often to the detriment of his team.
He told Shoot Magazine, "I have this thing, like, where I have to pass the ball to "Zizou" (Beckham's French teammate Zinedine Zidane) exactly 15 times during every game. It's really silly I know but I can't help it. I'll admit it -there have been occasions where it has cost the team".
Last weekend was one such occasion. In the dying moments of Madrid's crunch tie with arch-rivals Barcelona, Beckham, collecting possession inside the opposition's half with Zidane completely free on the left to run through and score. He refused to pass the ball to his French teammate, revealing how this would have "totally messed up my routine".
EPSA statistics bear out Beckham's words. They show that he did indeed pass the ball to Zidane exactly 15 times during the Barcalona game and indeed has done so in every game where the two have played together.
Beckham said he experieces at least 9 or 10 different forms of obsessive compulsions during any given game ranging from having to wear his shoelaces inside his boots to chewing on a blade of grass plucked from the area next to the corner flag and spitting it out next to the opposite corner flag after exactly 65 minutes.
Explaining another quirk, Beckham said, "Another thing is when I, like, notice before a game that the penalty spot isn't a perfect circle, I, like, get the groundsman to paint it so it is... a perfect circle".
He added, "Nobody knows about this, I usually arrive before the team to make sure everything is to my liking".
In a still more shocking revelation, Beckham also put his recent penalty taking woes for England (he has missed 3 crucial penalties in recent years) down to an inexplicable compulsion to kick the ball as hard and as high as he can instead of aiming towards the goal. This occured in crucial ties against Turkey and Portugal.
The revelations are likely to raise calls for England coach, Sven Goran Erickson, to drop Beckham the fear being the players's obsessive compulsive nature affects England's chances of triumphing in the upcoming World Cup in Germany.
Erickson defended his captain however, arguing, "David is a very intelligent young man. He is a big boy with a nice manner and he knows how to look after himself. I hope he makes it a compulsion to score 3 goals in every game ha ha. I only hope but what can we do but hope, no?"
Although only coming to public attention now, knowledge of Beckham's OCD has been prevalent among teammates for years. When playing for Manchester United, Beckham's teammate Roy Keane would, when exercising before every game, deliberately do 35 star jumps and only 33 hands-to-toes stretches. Apparently this infuriated his teammate no end.
"Roy had a bit of trouble understanding how difficult it is to live with this condition", he said.