The soccer star – who has three sons, Brooklyn, 10, Romeo, seven, and four-year-old Cruz,  with wife Victoria Beckham – was told 83-year-old Joe West had passed away shortly after he arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, to help England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

David’s family – including his mother Sandra, Joe’s daughter – have urged him to stay in Cape Town for the time being to fulfil his commitments to the bid.

A friend said: “David is absolutely devastated. He was so close to Joe, who was his mentor.

“He’d only just got off the plane when he heard the news. His family are urging him to stick to his work commitments and leave at the end of the week, but there is no way that David wants to miss Joe's funeral. If he has to fly home, then so be it.”

David was extremely close to his grandfather – who had been stricken with a serious illness in August - and often cited him as his sporting inspiration.

David’s eldest son Brooklyn has the middle name Joseph in honour of Joe.