David Beckham prepares to take a free-kick

Match Rewind: The best of David Beckham

Friday 01 May 2020 09:00

'Match Rewind' is back, and we've another truly tasty selection of football feasts for you to choose from ahead of this weekend's live stream.

Every couple of days, we've been asking fans to vote for one of four famous Manchester United games from a particular category. We've then shown the winning choice in full, for free, via our Official App and the homepage of ManUtd.com.
This time our theme is simple: United hero and cultural icon David Beckham, as we mark his birthday on Saturday. We've highlighted a quartet of games in which he delivered some of his biggest contributions during an 11-year career at Old Trafford, which encompassed 394 appearances and 85 goals.
Here's the shortlist...
Beckham had made just 11 first-team appearances before the start of the 1995/96 season, but he would end it as a Double-winner, and one of the stars of a new emerging United team. The talent of the group now popularly referred to as 'the Class of 92' was well known, but what was unclear back then was just how well they might handle the pressure of playing for one of England's biggest clubs at the top level.
Top 10 goals: David Beckham Video

Top 10 goals: David Beckham

Top 10 goals | See our countdown of strikes by United icon David Beckham...

By the end of the campaign, Ferguson and the United faithful had the answer, and Beckham's confident contribution in this tight cup semi-final against Ruud Gullit's Chelsea was a moment that clearly underlined his mental strength. The Reds had gone behind and equalised through Andy Cole when Craig Burley's acrobatic attempt at a pass-back unwittingly put our then no.24 through on Kevin Hitchcock in the Chelsea goal. The youngster carefully slid the ball home – despite a truly terrible mud-wrecked pitch – to the delight of the thousands of United fans in the stand behind the netting. This was a nerve-shredding cup tie that more than merits a repeat viewing, with some truly great players, especially Eric Cantona, showing their best in trying conditions.
WIMBLEDON 0 UNITED 3 (1996/97)
Arguably the day that Beckham became a superstar and a household name in the United Kingdom, if not the world. The reigning English champions were coasting to a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park on the opening day of the 1996/97 Premier League season, when a staggering moment arrived with just three minutes to play.
Spotting the Dons' goalkeeper, Neil Sullivan, off his line from inside his own half, Beckham simply swished his right foot through the ball, like a golfer hitting a casual iron shot from the middle of the fairway, and found the back of the net, halfway up, with laughable ease. "That is absolutely phenomenal," yelped commentator John Motson, and he wasn't wrong. Life would never be the same again for the boy wonder after this piece of Hollywood-esque magic. Other players have scored from their own half since – and from further out – but none have done it so beautifully.
Everyone remembers Ryan Giggs's golden intervention during extra-time of this FA Cup semi-final replay – claimed by many onlookers to be among the greatest games ever played on English soil – but it also contained one of Beckham's most remarkable strikes. And given that the England international was famous for scoring from the halfway line, and from countless free-kicks, you know a goal has to be good to stand comparison with his best efforts.
United Greats: David Beckham edition Video

United Greats: David Beckham edition

With 85 goals, 12 major honours and a wand of a right foot, let's take a look at why David Beckham is a United legend...

Alex Ferguson made several changes to his starting line-up for this crunch encounter with arch rivals Arsenal, which came just three days after the sides drew 0-0 at Villa Park. Notably, both Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were rested, and in came Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Beckham retained his place, and it was his link-up with the former that delivered United's spellbinding opener. A long hoof upfield from Schmeichel was cleared by Gunners centre-back Martin Keown, but Beckham took the loose ball effortlessly in his stride, raced forward, and then fed Sheringham. The ex-Tottenham forward deftly touched the ball back for his fellow Londoner, almost turning the situation into a dead ball for Beckham, who then unleashed a glorious strike that arced away from a despairing David Seaman in the Arsenal goal. The epic game only got better from there, and Beckham was right at the heart of the action.
Without the suspended Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, the United manager needed to shuffle his midfield pack ahead of the club's first European Cup final in 31 years. He initially considered Ryan Giggs for a central-midfield role, but eventually plumped for Beckham, preferring Giggs's pace and dribbling ability out wide.
Beckham responded to the challenge, and pressure, with one of his bravest performances in a United shirt. His work-rate was phenomenal, and his passing hugely courageous. At just 24, he shouldered much of his team's creative burden in the middle of the park, and was rewarded in the dying minutes when he finally unearthed two near-perfect corners that created pandemonium in the Germans' defence. Ultimately, those deliveries were catalysts for the goals that won the club's second European Cup and completed the Treble – capping a superb season for Beckham individually, following the disappointment he suffered at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Ten great David Beckham free-kicks Video

Ten great David Beckham free-kicks

Becks was the master from dead-ball situations! We could watch these top strikes all day long…

You can select which of the four matches you want to see by voting in our Match Rewind live blog.
The vote closes at 16:00 BST on Saturday (2 May) and we’ll show the winning game in full, and for free, on the Official App and ManUtd.com at 19:00 BST later that evening.
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