Kate Hogan is Director of Digital Specials and Features at PEOPLE, as well as the editor of Stories to Make You Smile.


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He’s never been secretive about his ink, but PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive David Beckham probably hasn’t spilled the details on all 40-plus of his tats.

He’s still not – a man has to keep some things private! – but in his cover interview, the former soccer star did let PEOPLE in on the stories behind five of his favorites:

Right Bicep:
On his left shoulder, the soccer star has a reclining angel with the motto “In the face of adversity” above her. It’s one of many biblical symbols, often representing Victoria and the children. “The family ones obviously mean a lot to me,” he says.

Back (see wing peeking out):
After Brooklyn’s birth in 1999, the doting dad got his oldest child’s name inked on his lower back. The names of sons Romeo and Cruz bracket a large angel, whose wing is visible here. (Harper is honored with a neck tattoo.)

Right Hand:
“The ones on my hands I like the most,” says Beckham. Words from Beyoncé and Jay Z’s 2014 On the Run tour, “Dream big, be unrealistic,” are etched on his right knuckles. Above it is a tribute to Victoria (and 99, the year they wed, is on his thumb).

Right Forearm:
A quote from Roman emperor Caligula, “Let them hate as long as they fear,” sits below another angel on his crowded left arm. “When Dad is covered in tattoos, you can’t really tell Brooklyn he can’t get one,” quips Victoria. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”


Beckham re-created Man of Sorrows, a painting by artist Matthew R. Brooks, to honor his grandfather Joe West, who died in 2009. “Many people have said to me, ‘When you’re 60, how is it gonna look?’ ” he says of his body art. “I’m not even worried about it.”