UK tabloid newspapers are having a field day with Prime Minister John Key's lowly opinion of English football star David Beckham's intellect.
Mr Key told students while visiting St Hilda's Collegiate in Dunedin yesterday that Beckham was a nice guy but "thick as bats**t", Radio New Zealand reported.
Beckham had spent 45 minutes with Mr Key's son Max on a visit to New Zealand in 2008.
The Daily Mirror and The Sun have picked up the comment, with the Mirror quoting a source close to Beckham as saying the insult was pathetic.
"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 called the unguarded comment "stinging" and "cruel".
Mr Key's office declined to comment.