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David Beckham finished second place in the Ballon d'Or in 1999 after he was a key member in Manchester United's famous treble team, however, just under a year earlier he experienced his worst moment in football.
As a star man for Glenn Hoddle's England side, Beckham was expected to help bring silverware home in the 1998 World Cup. But instead, one single moment in the round-of-16 against Argentina defined his status within the Three Lions fanbase for a number of years.
After being barged from behind from current Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, England's no.7 reacted with a flick of his right leg as he was on the floor.
The Argentine's theatrics that we often see at the touchline at the Metropolitano Stadium were on show on the pitch that day, as he fell to the floor in a cry in attempts to get Beckham sent off.
He was successful.
Despite it being soft, it was also silly from the 23-year-old of the time, and he received no sympathy from fans as England crashed out of the tournament on penalties later in the game.
"I remember how tough it was." Beckham recalls to Gary Neville in the latest edition of The Overlap. "It was a tough tournament to start with, then got a little bit better and then got really bad.
"I never felt like I was frustrated playing in those games. It was just a moment that happened, where I reacted. It was just a moment of madness."
Looking back at the aftermath of that red card, Beckham was disappointed that he did not receive the support that he expected from players inside of the England camp at the time, with it later being revealed by Michael Owen in his autobiography that Victoria Beckham was 'disappointed' in him for not publicly sticking up for her fiancé at the time.
"It's probably harsh to say that I still feel let down by that, but I look back at that moment, and we were young." Beckham explained.
"Yes, I'd made a mistake, but there's certain people in teams and in football that you expect to support you no matter what, and I think we always had that a United. I felt let down at that time."
The reaction when Beckham returned to the country was horrid and it was something that Beckham couldn't have anticipated.
"I felt that I let quite a lot of people down, but I didn't even think or expect what was going to happen for the next few years. I knew it was going to be a tough moment going back home, but I never expected it to be as bad as it was."
Luckily, Beckham was at the club where it already seemed like 'us against them' with United dominating English football under Sir Alex Ferguson.
He received support from his teammates and the boss made sure that he spoke to his player the following day after the incident.
"He phoned me early morning and said 'are you okay son' and I said 'yeah' and I think I got emotional to him." Beckham detailed the call between himself and the United gaffer.
"He just said 'don't worry, go away for a few weeks to somewhere quiet'... I went to New York."
With Neville puzzled about his holiday destination, Beckham explained why he chose the states, but also says that it wasn't a good decision: "But my wife was there, she was on a world tour and I went to meet her. It was probably the worst place I could've gone.
"I remember getting back and walking through the airport and getting absolutely abused by this one TV reporter at the time, saying I've let my parents down, my grandparents down."
"Every game that (following) season, apart from every game we played at Old Trafford, was horrendous. Every talk show, everywhere I went, every time I put petrol in the car I was getting abuse."
It could've been enough to break any player. But, Beckham was lifting the Champions League to complete the set, alongside the Premier League and FA Cup, just 331 days after that tragic night.
He was the star in the final, with both of United's late goals coming from dangerous corners that he delivered from the left-hand side, but he speaks on the importance of the supporters at Old Trafford in his incredible turnaround from zero to hero.
"The thing what got me through that particular season were the United fans.
"That first game I didn't know what the reaction would be, but then, that first corner I walked over with the ball and I looked up and the whole stand just rose. That's how I got through that season."
And got through it he did. With nine goals and 18 assists, with eight of those assists coming in Europe, Beckham was one of the best players in the world that season and that reflected in his Ballon d'Or placing at the end of the year.
It was one of the biggest footballing witch-hunts ever, but the former United man believes that he learned from the tough experience and it was ultimately something that helped him in the future.
"When I look back at my career and I talk about regrets, I wish that never happened.
But, when I look on the flip side, if it hadn't of happened then I might not have had the career that I had and might not have been as strong as I was after that time to get through some of the stuff that I went through throughout my career.
"So I turned it into a positive, but it was one of those moments where you never want it to happen in a game."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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