David Beckham is very affectionately known among Manchester United fans and fans of football across the world – but that wasn’t always the case.
As he was becoming professional footballer, David Beckham was adored. His cute-looking curtains, lovely play style and beautiful passes were a thing to behold in such a brilliant young player.
He found incredible success in his career, winning titles with four different clubs. At Manchester United in particular, he won six premier league titles, two FA Cups, two Charity Shields, one Intercontinental Cup (succeeded by the Club World Cup), and one Champions League.
He was a huge part of the club’s 1999 treble success, being the man to take both corners that led to the two historic goals against Bayern Munich.
Beckham, or ‘Becks’ as he became affectionately known across the country, was always a man for the big occasions; mostly.
He was always partly hated by rival fans of Manchester United, but that was understandable as it was part of the tribal culture of being a football fan – ‘we hate anyone who doesn’t support or play for us’ was and still is the general vibe.
But come the 1998 World Cup in France, and by the end of the tournament David Beckham became the most unifidely hated man in the country.
Beckham was sent off in the first knock-out round due to kicking out at now football managerial villain Diego Simione, and despite Michael Owen’s brilliance that game to score a wonderful solo goal, the English side lost the match on penalties and the media targeted Beckham for the loss, and what followed was torrid abuse up and down the country.
Despite this, Beckham was instated as captain of England in 2000, and despite many fans ruing the decision at the time, he more than made up for it with a stunning free-kick against Greece to earn a 2-2 draw in the dying moments at Old Trafford that helped send England on their way to the 2002 World Cup.
Speaking on his favourite goal, Beckham recounts: "I think it has to be the goal against Greece.
"I think that was, possibly, the moment for me where most of the nation forgave me for what I did four years before. I think that was probably the moment England fans - whether it West Ham, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - went, 'okay, enough is enough'.”
Sometimes rivalries just have to be put aside. It’s been seen during the last two international tournaments in England that fans are becoming much more united in their support for the national side.
In previous tournaments there has always been a divide between England fans depending on who you supported – for example, “stand up if you hate United” was a song often sung at Wembley during England matches, even when Manchester United players were playing.
"It was a special moment,” Beckham continued. “to play in a game that was so important for our country - at Old Trafford - it has to be the best [goal]."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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