David Beckham was already a firm favourite at Manchester United, but 15 years ago today, the country fell in love with the captain of its football team.
On October 6, 2001 England were hosting Greece in their final 2002 World Cup qualifier. A win would confirm their place in the finals, but a draw would be enough if rivals Germany failed to win against Iceland.
Beckham’s greatest ever goal vs Greece in 2001:
Having comfortably beaten Greece earlier in the qualifying campaign (Beckham and United team-mate Paul Scholes with the goals), Sven’s strong England side looked a shoo-in to reach South Korea and Japan.
But the pesky Greeks had other ideas at Old Trafford, and took the lead twice through Angelos Charisteas and Demos Nikolaidis.
Although Germany were being held by a dogged Iceland side (we’ve all been there, Germany, don’t worry about it), Sheringham won a free-kick on the edge of the box with 90 minutes on the clock.
At 2-1 down, needing a goal to send England to the World Cup, up stepped Beckham.
He’d spurned five set pieces already throughout the course of the game, but he ushered Sheringham, who wanted the dead ball to himself, away.
We all know what happened next.
Beckham took the perfect free-kick, wrapping the ball into the top corner, sending Old Trafford wild and England to the World Cup.
The goal was farcically good. Given the circumstances under which it was scored, it simply has to be Beckham’s best.