Club Legends #4 – David Beckham

David Robert Joseph Beckham was born on 2nd May 1975 at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone to Sandra and Ted Beckham. As a child Beckham would regularly play football at Ridgeway Park, Chingford. He attended school at Chase Lane Primary School and Chingford Foundation School.

Beckham said at school whenever he asked by the teachers what he wanted to do when he was older, he would say he wanted to be a footballer and teachers would say no what do you want to do for a job. Being a professional football was all he ever wanted to do. Beckham’s parents are fanatical Manchester United supporters and would regularly travel to Old Trafford for United home games and Beckham inherited his parents love for Manchester United.

As a young boy Beckham attended one of Sir Bobby Charlton’s football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona. Beckman was a mascot for Manchester United for a match against West Ham in 1986. Beckham had trials at Leyton Orient and Norwich City and attended Tottenham Hotspur’s school of excellence. He signed schoolboy terms at Manchester United on his 14th birthday and later signed a youth training scheme contract on 8th July 1991.

Having now signed for United as a trainee, Beckham was part of a group youth players, that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, who were coached by Eric Harrison. They were dubbed the class of 92 as they won the Fa Youth Cup of 1992 beating Crystal Palace 6-3 on aggregate in the final. His performances in the youth team led to a first team debut as substitute in a League Cup tie Against Brighton and Hove Albion on 23rd September 1992. At the start of 1993 Beckham signed professional terms with the club on 23rd January.

United and Beckham would again reach the Fa Youth Cup final in the May of 1993, this time facing Leeds United, but this time Beckham was on the losing side as United lost 4-1 on aggregate. In September 1994 Beckham made his first start for the first team in a League Cup tie against Port Vale and on 7th December 1994 Beckham made his UEFA Champions League debut and scoring in a 4-0 victory over Galatasaray. After this Beckham went on loan to Preston North End for part of the 1994/95 season and scored 2 goals in 5 appearances for Preston.

Beckham celebrates with Eric on his first team debut
Beckham celebrates with Eric on his first team debut

Beckham returned to United towards the end of the 1994/95 season and made four appearances for United in the league that season as United finished 2nd in the league to Blackburn as the club missed out on a third successive Premier League title by one point. United allowed senior players in Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis to leave the club, this was to allow the likes of Beckham and his fellow class of 92 graduates to play in the first team.

The club received criticism from outside as they let these senior players leave and as they made no major signings it looked from the outside that these players hadn’t been replaced. This criticism increased when on the opening day of the 1995/96 season United travelled to Villa Park and lost the game 3-1 with Beckham scoring United’s goal. This defeat prompted Match Of The Day’s Alan Hansen to say “You Can’t Win Anything With Kids” in reference to United’s faith in Beckham and his fellow class of 92 graduates.

Beckham established himself on the right-hand side United’s midfield in his first season as United won the Premier League title back and also winning the Fa Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0 in the showpiece final. It wasn’t looking like United would win the title in this season though having at one point been 10 points behind Newcastle United at the top of the league, Beckham and his team-mates overhauled this deficit though and went top in mid March and stayed there till the end of the season.

At the start of the 1996/97 season Beckham was given the number 10 shirt which had previously been worn by Mark Hughes, on the first day of the season on 17th August, Beckham scored the goal that made him a household name when he scored from the half-way line against Wimbledon. He helped United once again with the Premier League title in 1996/97 as he was an ever-present in the team and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his fellow professionals.

David Beckham with 1997 PFA Young Player of the Year Trophy
David Beckham with 1997 PFA Young Player of the Year Trophy

On 18th May 1997 Eric Cantona retired and United signed Teddy Sheringham as his replacement, so Beckham vacated the number 10 shirt for Sheringham and Beckham took the famous number 7 shirt vacated by Cantona for the 1997/98 season. Beckham was unable to help United win any trophies in this as they finished 2nd to Arsenal in the Premier League. In the 1998/99 Beckham was part of the United’s Treble winning squad as they won the Premier League, Fa Cup and Champions League. Before this season started some people thought he may leave the club as a result of criticism he received both from the media and the public as a result of his sending off against Argentina.

Thankfully he decided to stay United, Beckham score the equalising goal against Tottenham in the final game of the season as United won the game 2-1 to win back the Premier League title from Arsenal. United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final as United snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals both coming from Beckham corners. Beckham’s performances in the 1998/99 season saw him finishing runner-up to Brazilian Rivaldo in European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Over the following two seasons Beckham was a key player for Manchester United as again won the Premier League title to make it three league championships in a row, only the fourth time that any club had achieved this. Beckham and United missed out on a fourth Premier League title in the 2001/02 season as he missed the rest of the season following an injury in a Champions League tie against Deportiva La Coruna. Despite the injury the 2001/02 season was Beckham’s best in a United shirt scoring 16 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions.

Beckham lost his regular starting place in United side in the 2002/03 season after an early season injury. His relationship with Manager Sir Alex Ferguson had been deteriorating for a while and came to a head when after losing an Fa Cup tie 2-0 to Arsenal at Old Trafford, Ferguson is said to have kick a boot that struck Beckham above his eye and required stitches. After this there was speculation about his future at United, he helped United to win the league though this wasn’t enough for him to stay at the club as he was sold to Real Madrid for £25million in the summer of 2003.

Beckham made 394 appearances and scored 85 goals for United and helped them win 6 Premier League titles, 2 Fa Cups, 1 European Cup and 1 Intercontinental Cup. After Leaving United he played for Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, Ac Milan and Paris St Germain before playing his final career game on 18th May 2013. He retired with 115 caps for England, this makes him the highest capped outfield player for England. He is the first English player to win League titles in four different countries, having won the league in Spain, United States and France to add to the titles he won with Manchester United.

About Andrew Hyslop 397 Articles
Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01M1RVX27

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