The footballer, designer and model will appear on the cover of the magazine's July issue, which is said to be "a nod to the Olympic Games by featuring a global icon famous for both his style and athletic prowess".

Beckham said of the news: "Elle is a prestigious magazine with international recognition.

"I'm honoured to have been asked to be the first ever solo male fashion cover."

Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy said: "David Beckham is a national hero, so we saw an opportunity to shoot a celebratory cover to support an historical and patriotic year.

"He is an icon and Elle is known for featuring icons on its cover. This is a first for us on the newsstand and I believe he is loved by men and women alike.

"Anyway, who doesn't want to see a picture of one of the world's most handsome men on the front cover of a magazine? It will be a collector’s issue."

Other men who have graced the front cover of Elle include Paul Weller who posed with Kate Moss in 1997, and Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger in 2001.