David Beckham is one of England’s greatest ever players.
He holds the record for the most appearances for an outfield player with 115 caps. He has played for the best football clubs in the world and has won some of the biggest prizes in the game.
Beckham was part of the famous “Fergie’s Fledglings” group that dominated English football and won trophy after trophy.
After shooting to stardom as part of the Manchester United team in the mid-nineties, Beckham became the most iconic footballer in the world and his fame went beyond that of any other sportsman on the planet.
However, for every headline about his latest haircut or showbiz party, there was one for his stunning goal or match winning performance on the pitch.
Wonder goal at Manchester United
David Beckham made his debut for Man Utd in 1992 but was loaned out to Preston North End to gain first team experience.
It wasn’t until the start of the 1995/6 season that he established himself as a first team regular at Old Trafford, where he made 40 appearances helping the club to the league and FA Cup double.
He shot to fame on the first day of the season in 1996 when he scored against Wimbledon from inside his own half in a 3-0 win. It was a fantastic strike and it showcased his technical ability and youthful fearlessness to the world.
He became a superstar overnight and continued to impress as United won the title for the second year in a row.
Disgrace in France ‘98
By the time the World Cup came around in 1998, David Beckham was knocking on the door of the England first team. He was selected in Glenn Hoddle’s squad but not picked in the starting line up for England’s first two games.
After a defeat to Romania, Hoddle bowed to media pressure and started Beckham in the final group game against Colombia. It was a move that paid off as Beckham scored a spectacular free kick to help England to a 2-0 victory and progress to the knock out stage.
England faced Argentina in the last 16 clash and it was a thrilling game that saw the sides go in level at half time with the score 2-2.
Shortly after the restart Beckham was clattered in the back by Diego Simeone and awarded a free kick. However, Beckham retaliated to the challenge by flicking his leg up at Simeone while he was still on the ground.
The referee had no choice but to interpret it as violent conduct and dismissed Beckham. England’s ten men battled on but eventually lost the tie in a penalty shoot out.
Beckham was made the scapegoat for the defeat and faced a hate-fuelled backlash from English fans and journalists. He had gone from hero to zero in the eyes of the country’s football fans in a matter of days.
Public Enemy Number One
The following year Beckham had something to prove to the English public. He was now engaged to pop star and Spice Girl Posh Spice, Victoria Adams, and was often seen out with the country’s top film and TV stars.
To win back the support of the country’s football fans, he had to show he was a genuine world class talent and not just an arrogant prima donna taking his cash and squandering it on luxuries.
After his red card at the World Cup, and the fact that his new fiancé was not a popular figure in the public’s eyes, Beckham had a lot to do to get the nation back on his side.
Starring role in winning the treble
Beckham responded to the hostilities he faced during the aftermath of the World Cup in outstanding fashion. He was one of United’s most important players and helped the team to the famous treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999.
Beckham played a starring role throughout the season with nine goals and 23 assists. His pinpoint crosses and deadly free kicks were now his trademark and it was from his corners that both goals were scored in the dramatic victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final.
He was controversially beaten to the PFA Player of the Year award by Tottenham’s French winger, David Ginola.
Beckham wins back the nation – Read more