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How Liam Neeson, Darren Clarke and Paddy Kielty are a match for David Beckham when it comes to holding back the years

David Beckham looks better than ever despite hitting 40 this week, and there are plenty of other celebs wearing well, says Nel Staveley

He shared a big birthday with the new royal baby Princess Charlotte, but despite turning 40, David Beckham only seems to get better with age. And he's not the only one ...

Let's face it, he has always been pretty darn gorgeous.

So when David Beckham first burst into fame, fortune and female hearts back in the mid-nineties, it was hard to imagine a man so handsome, could ever become more handsome.

And yet, that's exactly what has happened. Now, somehow, even after 20-odd years of improving handsomeness, after celebrating his 40th birthday, the football legend/father-of-four/model and all-round-one-man-super-brand, is looking better than ever.

But does reaching the big 'four-oh' mean he's surely reached his peak? Is it all going to be middle-aged spread, wrinkles and receding hairlines from here on in?

Probably not. Because, well, he's David Beckham, and also, it turns out that a lot of men get better, not worse, with age. Here are a few other male celebs who are maturing very nicely indeed ...

Gary Barlow

Oh Gary, the ultimate "looks tortoise" in the "tortoise and hare looks race".

He might not have adorned the Smash Hits poster pages as much as his fellow bandmates back in the 1990s, but if magazine's poster pages were still a thing, he and his newly lean and chiselled self would definitely be adorning them now. Robbie who?

Phillip Schofield

It was always going to be difficult for a man sitting in a cupboard with a hairy yellow puppet to seem sexually attractive. But fast-forward a few decades on from his Gordon The Gopher days, and Phillip Schofield has transformed into the nation's ultimate twinkly-eyed silver fox.

Gary Lineker

The hair, the ears, the slightly too-big-for-his-face features - the more youthful Gary Lineker might have been a footballing legend, but a "looker" he was not. The less youthful Lineker, however, is very much ticking both boxes.

Jon Hamm

Curtains (that 90s craze for men to have an inexplicably-centrally-parted fringe) didn't do many favours for many people. Especially a young Jon Hamm.

Thankfully, 20 years and a starring role in Mad Men later, and Hamm has said goodbye to the curtains, and shone rather a lot of light on how painfully attractive he is.

Harrison Ford

He's always had it going on, so strictly speaking, Harrison Ford hasn't got better with age, he's just kept up a steady level of hotness. But the fact he's done it despite now being in his 70s, and (more crucially) despite deciding to get his ear pierced, is an achievement that deserves to be marked.

Steve Coogan

Opting to play roles like Alan Partridge clearly means Coogan was never a man planning on becoming a heart-throb. But sometimes plans go awry, and now here he is, being an all serious actor, clean-cut and generally very nice to look at.

Alan Rickman

The distinctive voice has always been there, but it just seems to fit Rickman better now he's older - as do those knowing stares, brooding eyes and meaningful frowns. In fact, perhaps that's why his partner, Rima Horton, just recently decided after 50 years together that the time was finally right to become Mrs Rickman.

Peter Andre

Admittedly, things could only get better after that Mysterious Girl phase, that marriage to Katie Price, and those musical comeback attempts. But still, Peter Andre (now with mercifully shorter hair, shorter time in the tanning salon and a newly-acquired doting father image) is definitely a man on the up.

Richard Bacon

He's not quite 40, but he's heading there (his birthday is in November), and we have no doubt he'll pass the landmark birthday with quite some style. From his wholesome days on Blue Peter, through his less wholesome days after it, Richard Bacon just seems to have got cleverer, cooler, funnier - and just generally sexier.

And let's not forget some home-grown hunks who have aged pretty well:

Liam Neeson

The Ballymena-born actor has always been a handsome man, tall and imposing with a fine physique and his good looks helped attract plenty of beautiful women including Helen Mirren, Brooke Shields and his late wife Natasha Richardson. But, like a fine wine, he just gets better with age, re-inventing himself as an action hero and sex symbol in his late 50s with the Taken movie franchise. He has a particular set of skills, you know.

Patrick Kielty

Women love a man with a sense of humour and when it comes to making us laugh, comic Kielty's the man. The 44-year-old may make self-deprecating jokes about his pale skin but at least he'll never look too bronzed and wrinkled, with that clear celtic complexion. He's not done too bad for himself either with the ladies, wedding television beauty Cat Deeley in Rome in September 2012.

Darren Clarke

When you're married to a health-conscious, former beauty queen and stunning model boss, it's no surprise that you'll want to look the part too. Golfer Darren Clarke (46), who married Alison Campbell in April 2012, shed several stone last year and spent hours in the gym, revealing a ripped, muscular body.

His wardrobe and hairstyle have been given an overhaul too, and the end result is one good looking man.

Helpful hints for staying young ...

The male grooming expert Jason Shankey who owns and runs salons in Belfast and London and a successful online business, shares his top five tips for youthful looks:

  • Avoid the sun to help prevent wrinkles
  • Use a scrub on your skin before shaving for a more youthful appearance
  • Shave your face in the same direction the hair grows to prevent redness
  • Use a moisturiser everyday to keep the skin soft and youthful looking
  • Shave more than 10-minutes after you wake up in the morning to prevent a shaving rash

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