10 times Beckham lorded it over London
David Beckham might have hailed from East London, as the grandson of a Tottenham Hotspur fanatic, but he always seemed to find his best when United came up against clubs from his home city.
10: SCORING ON THE PRESTON FRONT
The 19-year-old David Beckham was shocked when he was sent out to Preston on loan because he interpreted it as a sign that United wanted to get rid of him. At 4.45pm on 11 March 1995, Fulham would have wished he'd stayed where he was. Beckham fitted in straight away at Deepdale and started his first game for the Lilywhites in a Division Three fixture against Fulham, where he faced notorious hardman Terry Hurlock. The game ended 3-2 to Preston, marked by an exquisite free-kick from you-know-who, who had been unconcerned by the attentions of his combative marker. Preston boss Gary Peters said:
“United did Preston a huge favour when David came to play for us.”Fulham manager Ian Branfoot declined to comment.
When Beckham was rested at the tail end of 2001 after suffering the effects of a punishing schedule for both club and country, the unfortunate Spurs and West Ham were made to pay for his fresh legs three months later. The no.7 delivered a devastating 11-day burst in March when he conspired with Ruud van Nistelrooy to blow away Spurs (each bagged a brace), then visited Upton Park for United's next league fixture and grabbed two of the Reds' five goals against the Hammers, who replied with a close-but-no-cigar three. Maybe it's because he's a Londoner...
Goal of the Day: Beckham v West HamVideo
A truly pinch-yourself experience. With a 3-0 lead at half-time, Tottenham’s home fans were in full crow while the United players, shell-shocked by the Spurs onslaught, skulked off to the dressing room like condemned men heading for the gallows. But, inspired by the manager’s motivational powers, the Reds hit five without reply in the second half. Fittingly it was Beckham, captain for the day in the absence of Roy Keane, who inflicted the final blow, driving a violent right-footer past Neil Sullivan that, but for the netting, might have resulted in at least one Spurs fan riding the tube home without a head.
“I can’t hear you now.”Andy Cole got his second and Teddy Sheringham bagged one to make it five. 5-0! Away at Chelsea! The Blues hit three late goals but it was too little, too late.
The media descended on Upton Park for United's first Premier League away game after the France 1998 World Cup – and Becks’ sending-off against Argentina. Security was stepped up, with the bloodthirsty hacks no doubt hoping he would be ripped to pieces by the West Ham crowd. In spite of intense pressure, Beckham refused to crumble and just got on with his job, setting the pattern for his ascent back into the affections of the nation.
Beckham signed trainee forms at Old Trafford in the summer of 1991, and less than a year later he was starring in the most talked about youth team of recent times, as they made their way to the 1992 FA Youth Cup final. Tottenham were beaten in the semi-final followed by Crystal Palace, 6-3 on aggregate, in the two-legged final, Beckham scoring in the first leg.
Wes Brown's full league debut, five goals against Wimbledon, and an example of Beckham's all-round game. He scored with a fierce low drive from 25 yards, and also set up Andy Cole for United's first and fifth in a 5-1 scoreline. Dons manager Joe Kinnear said:
“There is no shame in being beaten by a great team. Beckham was incredible.”
In 1996/97, Becks scored at four of the five London league grounds where United played. His first, a casual lob from halfway against Wimbledon on the season's opening day, was followed by a goal at West Ham in a December 2-2 draw, a cracker against Spurs in a 2-1 win a month later and another at Chelsea (1-1) a month after that. The only London ground he didn't score at was Highbury... but United won 2-1 there anyway.
Beckham's goal from the halfway lineVideo
In a game that showcased the sublime talents of two of the world's all-time greats – Ruud Gullit and Eric Cantona – United finally overcame Chelsea in the 1996 FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park with a Beckham winner. In his first season as an established first-teamer, young David ran onto Craig Burley's misplaced backpass and slotted the ball past keeper Kevin Hitchcock early in the second half.
“Beckham was one of our best players,”said Sir Alex.
“He's straight out of the top drawer. Within two years he'll be a great player.”Spot on, as usual!
The 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal lasted an epic four hours over the two matches. Ryan Giggs’s mazy dribble and deciding strike grabbed the headlines, but the first goal of the tie, after 137 minutes, came from Beckham. After an interchange with Sheringham (who had been taunted by Arsenal fans), United’s no.7 hit a shot from 25 yards out which bent around David Seaman. Sir Alex described it as