David Beckham All 85 Goals For Manchester United 1997-2003 – 15 of David Beckham’s most career-defining moments in football history

15 of David Beckham’s most career-defining moments in football history

15 of David Beckham’s most career-defining moments in football history: from his early days with Manchester United and controversial World Cup with England, to Inter Miami with Lionel Messi

Across his two-decade-long professional career, Beckham won league titles in four different countries and made over 100 appearances for England. And now, his life and legacy have been immortalised in his new Netflix docuseries, Beckham.

From humble beginnings to global superstardom, here’s a look back at the star’s glittering football career in 15 photos.

1. David Beckham joined Manchester United in 1991

David Beckham joined Manchester United in the early 1990s. Photo: Getty Images

As a youngster, he attended one of Bobby Charlton’s Soccer Schools in Manchester and had trials with Tottenham Hotspur.

In 1991, Beckham signed with United’s youth team at age 14, where he would go on to play alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and Gary and Phil Neville.

2. Beckham broke into United’s first team shortly after

David Beckham quickly rose through the ranks. Photo: Getty Images

After an impressive few seasons with United’s youth team, Beckham was handed his first team debut by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in September 1992.

Then 17, Beckham came on as a late substitute as United drew 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion in the League Cup. In January 1993, Beckham then signed with United as a professional.

3. 1996 proved to be his breakthrough year

Manchester United’s David Beckham, left, tries to block an unidentified Inter Milan player in their preseason friendly match at Old Trafford in Manchester in 1996. Photo: AP

Following a brief spell on loan with Preston North End for part of the 1994-95 season, Beckham returned to United and swiftly established himself as a first-team regular.

In the 1995-96 season, Beckham helped United win both the Premier League and FA Cup. Beckham was then called up by England for the first time, making his Three Lions debut in a Fifa World Cup qualifying match against Moldova in September 1996.

4. In August 1996, Beckham scored his most iconic United goal

Manchester United player David Beckham celebrates after scoring the third goal during the Premier League match between Wimbledon and Manchester United at Selhurst Park in 1996, in London, England. Photo: Getty Images

Playing against Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1996-97 season, Beckham famously hit a shot from the halfway line – 57 yards out – that floated over goalkeeper Neil Sullivan and into the goal.

It was later ranked as the Premier League goal of the decade by The Telegraph. Come the end of the season, Beckham was voted as the PFA Young Player of the Year as United won the title again.

5. Beckham’s first World Cup in 1998 ended in ugly fashion

Denmark’s umpire Kim Milton Nielsen gives England’s David Beckham, right, a red card during the England vs Argentina second round World Cup 98, soccer match at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium in Saint Etienne in 1998. Photo: AP

Now one of the most established young stars in the Premier League, the 1998 World Cup was supposed to be Beckham’s chance to show the entire world what he was capable of. Sadly, however, things didn’t exactly go to plan.

In the second round against Argentina, Beckham received a red card after kicking Diego Simeone while the latter was lying on the floor.

Argentina would go on to win the game on penalties, eliminating England. “This is without doubt the worst moment of my career,” Beckham said in a statement after England’s early exit. “I will always regret my actions. I have apologised to the England players and management and I want every England supporter to know how deeply sorry I am.”

6. He soon bounced back with United, however

Then-Manchester United and England player David Beckham smiles during a training session at Wembley in 1999, ahead of the Euro 2000 qualifying match against Luxembourg. Photo: AFP

In the 1998-1999 season, Beckham was a key figure for Manchester United as Ferguson’s team won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

United had been losing the Champions League final 1-0 to Bayern Munich after 90 minutes, but scored two goals in added time to win. Both goals came from corners taken by Beckham.

7. And in 2001, Beckham made things right for England

Then-England’s captain David Beckham, left, as he is congratulated by teammate Emile Heskey after scoring their second goal against Greece during their 2002 World Cup qualifying match at Old Trafford Manchester England. Photo: AP

In the wake of Beckham’s red card at the 1998 World Cup, the midfielder was blamed by fans and journalists for England’s early exit.

Beckham made amends in October 2001, however, when he scored a late free-kick against Greece in England’s final qualifying game ahead of the 2002 World Cup, earning the Three Lions a draw and ensuring they qualified for the tournament.

8. Beckham had a run-in with Alex Ferguson in 2003

Manchester United footballer David Beckham leaves his home in Cheshire in 2003, with a sticking plaster over his left eye. Photo: AFP

Things came to a head between the two in February 2003 following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal. After the loss, a furious Ferguson kicked a boot that struck Beckham, who at this time was no longer a regular starter for the club, above the eye, causing a cut that required stitches.

9. Four months later, Beckham joined Real Madrid

England’s David Beckham shooting a penalty during the group 7 European 2004 qualifying match against Turkey at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul. Photo: AFP

In June 2003, Beckham left United to become Real Madrid’s latest “Galáctico”, joining the Spanish giants for a fee of US$41 million. He left United having made just shy of 400 appearances for the club, scoring 85 goals and winning six Premier League titles.

10. Beckham’s time in Madrid wasn’t hugely successful

Ronaldo (left) and David Beckham (right) walk from the pitch after the first half of the UN match against poverty after the Fifa World Player 2003 award ceremony in Basel, Switzerland, in 2003. Photo: Reuters

Despite boasting a squad of superstars like Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and, of course, Beckham, Real didn’t manage to win La Liga until the last of Beckham’s four seasons at the club.

Reflecting on his time in Spain in May 2020, Beckham said: “The four years I spent at Real Madrid were among the most beautiful and important spells of my career.”

“The relationship with the fans, getting the chance to walk out into the Bernabéu and play in one of the greatest stadiums in the world of football,” he added. “I have very fond memories of that time.”

11. In 2007, he completed a historic move to Major League Soccer

British football star David Beckham, of the US club LA Galaxy, takes aim at the goal during an exhibition match against Sydney FC at Telstra Stadium in Sydney, in 2007. Photo: AFP

Midway through his final, title-winning season at Real, it was announced that Beckham would be leaving the club at the end of the campaign to join MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.

Though Real later tried to reverse the agreement after they won the title, Beckham’s move stateside was completed in July 2007.

The deal was momentous not only for the MLS, which saw a huge spike in interest and revenue as a result, but also for Beckham as it included a unique clause that would allow him to buy an MLS expansion franchise for a fixed price of US$25 million whenever he stopped playing in the league.

12. Beckham spent six years with LA Galaxy

Then-Los Angeles Galaxy’s David Beckham appears on the pitch before their MLS Western Conference championship football match against the Seattle Sounders in Seattle. Photo: AP

In six seasons with the Galaxy, Beckham made a total of 118 appearances, scoring 20 goals. In his final two seasons, he guided the club to back-to-back MLS Cups for the first time in its history.

13. During his time in LA, Beckham had two spells on loan in Italy

David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy warms up during training session at The Home Depot Center in 2010, in Carson, California. Photo: AFP

With the regular MLS season running from February or early March through to mid-October, Beckham moved on loan to AC Milan for part of both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Some fans were sceptical that Milan’s move for Beckham, then 33, was only a marketing move, but Beckham would prove the doubters wrong, establishing himself as a key figure in Milan’s star-studded midfield that included the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka and Clarence Seedorf.

Then-AC Milan’s English midfielder David Beckham (centre) shakes hands with former Manchester United’s teammates before their UEFA Champions League round of 16 match on in 2010, at San Siro stadium in Milan. Photo: AFP

“For him, the doors of Milan are always open,” Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani said of Beckham after his second loan spell at the club came to an end in 2010.

“Beckham is marvellous for the six months he is with us and for the six months he is not with us,” he added. “I am more than happy to open the doors of Milan in July or January or at any time whenever he wants. He is a fantastic man and player. You should see him in training.”

14. He also retired from international football

England’s David Beckham applauding the crowd after their World Cup group 6 qualifying soccer match against Belarus at Wembley Stadium, London. Photo: AP

Beckham made his final appearance for England on October 14, 2009, in a 3-0 win over Belarus. He retired from the national team with 115 caps to his name – the second most in the team’s history at the time.

15. In 2013, Beckham moved to Paris, where he finished his career

Then-Paris Saint-Germain’s English midfielder David Beckham is thrown in the air by teammates after a French L1 football match between Paris St Germain and Brest in 2013, at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Photo: AFP

After leaving LA Galaxy at the end of the 2012 MLS campaign, Beckham joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent in January 2013.

Beckham helped PSG win the Ligue 1 title before announcing he would retire from professional football at the end of the season.

For his final ever game, the then-38-year-old player was given Union flag-themed boots with the names of his wife and children stitched on to them and made PSG’s captain. After assisting a goal, Beckham was subbed off, receiving hugs from his teammates and manager, as well as a standing ovation from the crowd. He cried as he left the field.

At the final whistle, Beckham’s fellow PSG players formed a circle around him and tossed him into the air in celebration.

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