John Key's Beckham quip scorned

DASHING: David Beckham is a smart dresser.
DASHING: David Beckham is a smart dresser.

Australian media has jumped on the bandwagon on John Key's apparent quip about England's glamorous ex-football captain David Beckham.

UK tabloids are abuzz with the news, and the twittersphere has seen it dubbed “#batshitgate”.

The prime minister reportedly insulted the world's most famous soccer player when he told a group of Dunedin students that while Beckham was a nice man, he was also "as thick as bat s***".

SORRY: PM John Key has apologised for the failings behind Pike River.
SORRY: PM John Key has apologised for the failings behind Pike River.

He made the remark when speaking to a group of Dunedin high school students, Radio New Zealand reported.

He told the students that his son Max had spent 45 minutes with the LA Galaxy star when he visited New Zealand in 2008.

Beckham was handsome, a nice guy, but was also as "thick as bat s***", he reportedly told the students.

The Sydney Morning Herald claimed the red-topped tabloids in the UK were having a “field day” with the story demonstrating Key’s “lowly opinion” of the footballer.

Perth Now also snapped up the story, asking whether Beckham really deserved the criticism.

“He played in the country, for a fee admittedly, but does he deserve this?” it wrote.

British tabloids were quick to pick up on Key's comment.

Beckham's agent refused to comment, but told The Mirror that if the remark was true then it was a "pathetic" insult.

"For someone supposedly thick, David has done pretty well to have become one of the world's most successful footballers and to be part of the bid to bring the Olympics to London.

"That doesn't sound like someone thick to me."

The Sun, which also picked up on the story, said Beckham's intelligence had been called into question numerous times in the past.

He famously said of his first child: "We're definitely going to get Brooklyn christened but we don't know into which religion."

His wife, former Spice Girls and fashion designer Victoria Beckham, reportedly told him during a 2000 television documentary: "You make yourself sound stupid and you're not."

Terence O’Brien, a Senior Fellow at Victoria University and former New Zealand diplomat said Key’s comments would have few implications beyond the media attention.

“I don’t think there’ll be any diplomatic fallout at all. If it were the prime minister of England it would be a bit different,” he said.

“It wasn’t a sensible thing to say, but it was just a throwaway line.”

He said politicians do have to be careful with their words, but in this case, it would have any broader implications.