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David Beckham

On-field Redemption

Beckham started the 1998-99 soccer season on a mission to redeem himself for his grave error at the World Cup. Despite playing under constant pressure and ongoing booing from the crowd, Beckham had an excellent year and lead Manchester United to an unprecedented triple crown, winning the Premier League championship, the FA Cup, and the European Cup. Beckham had another good year during the 1999-2000 season, winning his fourth Premier League championship. He was runner-up in the voting for both best player in Europe and the best player in the world, and was second in voting for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (which was won by Lennox Lewis). Although he scored his fiftieth goal during the season, more press was given to his new mohawk haircut.

Beckham's play on the soccer field went a long way to redeem his image after the World Cup fiasco. Despite a slump early in 2001 that had critics grumbling about his true value, Beckham remained focused and returned to form. By the end of the 2000-01 season, having been named the team's captain, he was receiving high praise for his new-found leadership, maturity, and wisdom. Often knocked as a footballer with exceptional skills that did not necessarily come through in the clutch, Beckham quieted his critics by proving himself on the field.


1975 Born in Leytonstone, London, England
1991 Joins Manchester United as a trainee
1995 Makes debut in Premier League match
1996 Becomes starting midfielder
1998 Gets ejected from World Cup game against Argentina; vilified in England; signs five-year, $12.5 million with Manchester United
1999 Marries Victoria Adams, also known as Posh Spice
2000 Publishes autobiography
2001 Named team captain
2002 Scores free kick goal in the World Cup against Argentina

History of the Manchester United Soccer Team

Manchester United came into existence in 1878, under the name Newton Health. In 1909 the team began playing in the newly built arena, Old Trafford, where the team continues to play today. The team had moments of glory and dismal failure during its first decades. League play was suspended during World War II, and Old Trafford suffered damage from bombings, but the team quickly rebuilt it when play resumed in 1946. During the next twelve years Manchester United built a successful program, but a plane crash in 1958 that claimed the lives of eight players severely affected the team.

The Reds, as the team is known, careened through the 1960s and 1970s, matching great winning streaks with equally impressive slumps. In 1986 the team hired Sir Alex Ferguson, a seasoned and successful manager, to rebuild the Reds into a top-ranked organization. Between 1992 and 2001, the team claimed seven FA Premiere League titles.

Manchester United is a popular team in England, with the biggest payroll and the most media exposure. The team grossed nearly $140 million in 2000, more than any other team in the world. Comparable to the one-time stature of the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees, fans tended to either love them or hate them. For his part, Beckham is the highest paid player on the United team, earning some $13 million a year from salary and endorsements, and he, like his team, tends to inspire a strong reaction among fans who defend or distain him.

Beckham's moment of supreme redemption came during the World Cup in 2002, when England once again faced Argentina. Stalled at 0-0, England was awarded a penalty kick. Although he was coming off a broken foot and was not one-hundred percent healthy, Beckham lined up to take the shot. With the Argentinean players doing their best to distract him, Beckham, the master of the penalty kick, put the ball in the back of the net. England defended its 1-0 lead to advance in the World Cup. He was once again the hero.

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Famous Sports StarsSoccerDavid Beckham Biography - Joins Manchester United, 1998 World Cup Fiasco, Celebrity Status, On-field Redemption, Chronology - CONTACT INFORMATION