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Michael Owen Furiously Dismantled David Beckham While Talking About His Red Card At 1998 World Cup

Michael Owen Furiously Dismantled David Beckham While Talking About His Red Card At 1998 World Cup

England crashed out of the tournament against Argentina.

Daniel Marland

Daniel Marland

Michael Owen 'still holds resentment' towards David Beckham for getting sent off in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina.

In England's round of 16 match at the tournament, Beckham was sent off after kicking Diego Simeone while on the ground.

Referee Kim Milton Nielsen gave the winger his marching orders with the scores locked at 2-2 and England would go out on penalties.

Paul Ince and David Batty missed decisive spot kicks, but the nation's fury was aimed at Beckham for his petulance.

It went too far, with effigies of the Manchester United man being burned in public and insults such as '10 Heroic Lions, One Stupid Boy' being printed. Three Lions teammate Owen obviously condemned the abuse, but admitted he was personally angry with Beckham.

"The fallout from David Beckham's infamous red card against Argentina was still being felt some years later," Owen wrote in his 2019 autobiography per the Mirror.

"I'll start by saying that David and I always got on well on a personal level. He was obviously a very talented player.

"I always admired him massively because I always felt that nobody, I repeat, nobody, worked harder than David to maximise the talent he did have.

"But after that World Cup in France, few would argue that his and my paths were different. I became the darling of English football for a period of time whereas he became the villain.


"The general feeling in the dressing room immediately after the match was that there was nothing to say about him getting sent off. What could any of us have said to him that would have changed anything? The damage was done."

Owen burst onto the scene at the tournament at just 18 years of age and ran Argentina's defence ragged in that game.

He won the penalty which Alan Shearer scored from to open the scoring, before that sensational solo goal to make it 2-1.

Liverpool forward Owen returned from the tournament the nation's new golden boy, while Beckham was vilified.

He later found out Beckham's partner, Victoria Adams, wasn't happy with Owen refusing to publicly back his fellow countryman.


Owen continued: "However, some time later, I got wind that Victoria was in some way disappointed in me. She felt, I was told, that while all the limelight was on me after the World Cup, I should have publicly and voluntarily come out and backed David.

"I didn't consider myself senior enough to pat David Beckham - twenty times more famous than I was at the time - on the back and say: 'Keep your chin up, mate,' either.

"Whether I thought his actions lost us the game or not didn't matter. For me, at that time, it was about hierarchy and standing. I was just a junior member of that squad. I was really just a kid.

"But sitting here now, with the benefit of hindsight and perspective, I feel that what David did probably wasn't a red card offence in the first place. While it was clearly premeditated, it was immature and petulant more than it was violent. But for me, that almost makes it worse."

Owen and Beckham would go on to be teammates at Real Madrid for a sole season in 2004-2005, but the former never fully forgave Beckham.


He added: "All I can say is that, as I sit here now writing this book, knowing how lucky a player is to appear in one World Cup, never mind more than one, I'd be lying if I didn't say that what David did that day hadn't let every single one of that England team down.

"Did he deserve the abuse he got afterwards? Certainly not. What human being needs to see his or her effigy being burned? But David let us down, and I still hold some resentment about it today."

Beckham would get his revenge on Argentina four years later at the 2002 World Cup.


He scored the winning penalty in a 1-0 group stage win and ironically, it was Owen who won that penalty after being hauled down by Mauricio Pochettino.

As well as that, Beckham would earn the nickname of 'Golden Balls', become captain and England's second-highest appearance maker with 115.

Beckham fell 10 shy of Peter Shilton's record of 125 caps between 1970 and 1990.

Featured Image Credit: BT Sport & ITV

Topics: David Beckham, England, Michael Owen, Argentina