Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  

Beckhams 'Cruz' to third

British pop singer Victoria Beckham, wife of England soccer captain David Beckham, gave birth on Sunday to their third son, Cruz.

The boy was born by caesarean section a week early at a hospital in Madrid, where David Beckham plays for Real Madrid.

"We've got a baby boy. His name is Cruz," a beaming David Beckham told reporters. "He is beautiful. He is in there with his brothers now and he is very happy."

The Beckhams, Britain's highest-profile celebrity couple, already have two children, Brooklyn, 5, and Romeo, 2.

A statement from the hospital said Cruz -- Spanish for "cross" -- was delivered after a 30-minute operation with no complications, weighing 7 pounds.

"It's just a name we liked. We found it hard this time but we came up with a name that we both loved and stuck to it," Beckham said. "He's Got Victoria's nose and lips. He's gorgeous so we're very happy."

British bookmakers William Hill said they had done a roaring trade as punters betted on what name the Beckhams would choose.

"Jose" had been 7-1 favorite while other choices included the names of Real Madrid teammates such as Zinedine, after French star Zidane, or Ronaldo, after the Brazilian striker.

There was no sign of "Cruz" on William Hill's list.

The baby was born at 10:40 a.m. (4:40 a.m. EST) after doctors at the Ruber clinic asked Victoria to come for an early delivery.

Beckham said both mother and child were doing well, although Cruz could remain in hospital for a few more days.

The Beckhams' other children were both born at London's exclusive Portland Hospital.

Beckham joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2003 to become one of the world's highest paid football players.

The doctor overseeing the birth, Juan Vidal Pelaez, said Beckham was present during the operation. Malcolm Gillard, a London doctor who delivered Brooklyn, was also there.

Although the baby was born earlier than expected, Vidal said it was normal. "The child's weight ... confirms it was not premature and so the child will go home with its mother," he told a news conference.

If there were no complications, hospital stays after a caesarian were normally three or four days, he said.

Vidal said Victoria Beckham could have a fourth child, but the risks would be greater.

The Beckham's relationship came under close scrutiny in 2004 following tabloid allegations that Beckham had had an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos -- a claim the midfielder dismissed as "ludicrous."

Victoria, who achieved fame as "Posh Spice" with pop group The Spice Girls (news - web sites), initially refused to relocate to Spain because she wanted to pursue her solo singing career in Britain but later changed her mind.

William Hill also offered odds of 100/1 that Beckham's new son will play for England.

Asked by reporters whether the child would one day play football for the Spanish or English national side, Beckham replied: "He was born here, but we'll see. England will be the preference, but you never know."

Beckham played in Real's 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday night which left them seven points adrift of Spanish league leaders Barcelona.

I'VE BEEN BLESSED! David Beckham points towards something while jogging with Real Madrid teammates Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Carlos in Madrid on February 21. Beckham's wife Victoria gave birth to their third child on the day. PHOTO: AFP