20/12/2015 19:01 GMT | Updated 20/12/2015 19:59 GMT

David Beckham Warns Tyson Fury, "It's More Important To Be A Role Model Than To Be World Champion'

David Beckham has a message for Tyson Fury, who used his time in the spotlight on BBC's Sports Personality of the Year to apologise for any offence he had caused with his remarks on gay people, women and abortion.

The former England football star told HuffPostUK before the awards that it was right Tyson Fury was on the shortlist for the high-profile accolade, because he was "a world champion, at the end of the day".

However, Becks - who has transformed himself in two decades from pitch pariah to elder statesman of the game - emphasised the responsibility of a role model like Tyson Fury, now he's one of the highest-profile champions of his sport.

David Beckham has words of responsibility for Tyson Fury, a boxing world champion who has angered many

"In the sporting world, when you've been successful, it's a big thing, but it's more important to be a good role model," he explained.

"When you're at the top, when you're at the highest point in your sport, being a role model is even more important than anything else.

"He's done well in the ring, let's hope he continues to do well in and outside it."

David Beckham has travelled all over the world for his documentary 'For The Love Of The Game'

Tyson Fury came fourth in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, losing out to tennis player Andy Murray. Rugby player Kevin Sinfield was placed second, and Jessica Ennis-Hill took third place.

Campaigners said they were "disgusted" ahead of tonight's announcement, as Fury remained on the shortlist despite a mass outcry. 130,000 signed a petition asking for his removal, but the BBC did not bow to the pressure. Speaking on stage at the awards, Fury said his words had been "tongue in cheek" and apologised for "hurting" anyone who was offended.

Beckham, whose trip around the world to play very different football matches on seven continents including an all-star game at his former home Old Trafford is the subject of a BBC documentary over Christmas, reflected on how he had overcome his own former failings as an ambassador for sport, when he was given his infamous red card at the World Cup in 1998.

"I had to get my head down"

Beckham told HuffPostUK: "I knew I had to get my head down and work hard. In 1998, things happened where I wish they hadn't but they did. I could have gone on a different path, but thankfully I was brought up by parents who taught me how to work hard for a living, and I knew thats what I had to do on certain occasions."

The documentary includes one trip to South America, where Beckham dons an instantly recognisable pale blue shirt of Argentina, England's rivals when he was sent off 17 years ago…

"I remember putting on that shirt, people were saying, 'You sure you want to do that?'" he remembered.

"But it's the power of the game. It's the power of what I can bring. For me, there's no regrets in my career, or in my life. Certain things happened and they happened for a reason, and that's how I look at them."

'David Beckham: For The Love Of The Game' will be on BBC1 at 9pm on Tuesday 29 December.

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