Treble Icons: David Beckham
David Beckham began 1998/99 at the lowest point of his career, after an infamous sending off for England at the World Cup, yet our homegrown hero showed his true colours in the shirt of Manchester United and finished the season with an unbeatable high.
Now, the global sporting icon is preparing for an anticipated return to Old Trafford for this month's Treble Reunion match against Bayern Munich on 26 May. Tickets for the charitable occasion are still available to buy, with all proceeds going to the Manchester United Foundation.
LET'S HEAR FROM THE MAN HIMSELF
“I'm so excited to be coming back, especially for this game,” says Becks. “I haven't seen some of the squad for a while, so to all be back together, as players and friends, will be a great moment. Having Sir Alex there to manage us will also be an incredible moment. To have the boss back at Old Trafford will be huge for the fans - it will be an incredible day.
“Being a team that achieved so much in 1999, to come together and do something like this and raise as much money as possible for the Foundation is so important for all of us as individuals, as a team and, of course, Manchester United as a club.”
“A lot of people were writing me off at the start of the season saying I would crack or maybe go abroad, but it never even entered my mind,” said David, fresh from becoming a Treble-winner.
Thank goodness he did neither. Spurred on by the boos of opposition fans, he produced the finest football of his career to date, buzzing around from the first kick of the season at Wembley to the last in the Nou Camp. His crossing was pinpoint, his free-kicks stunning, his work-rate unrivalled, and his overall contribution a major factor in United’s three-trophy haul.
In 1998/99, he took his game to a whole new level and knew exactly who to thank for his inspiration. “The people booing me did me a favour,” he said. “I just ignored them, got my head down and got on with my game – but I’m sure it improved me as a player.”
It is arguably the forgotten goal of ‘98/99, but its importance cannot be underestimated. Tottenham were leading 1-0 at Old Trafford on a tense final day of the Premier League season, in a match we needed three points to win the title – or at least better Arsenal’s result. It didn’t look good.
Then Becks stepped up, whipping a right-footed shot from the very edge of the penalty area into the top-left corner, securing a pivotal equaliser and inspiring ecstasy around the Theatre of Dreams.
Andy Cole went on to score the title-clinching goal from Gary Neville’s assist, and the Treble across the next 10 days, but none of that would have happened without Beckham’s brilliant goal.
“Great players are defined by their ability to influence big matches and in Manchester United’s greatest season of all, 1998-99, he contributed plenty: the delivery of his crosses in the Champions League quarter-final against Inter Milan; scoring in the epic FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park against Arsenal, the game in which Ryan Giggs’s goal eventually won the match; scoring against Tottenham on the last day of the season, when we won the league; and the corners for Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Champions League final. In fact, he was our best player in that final and was the outfield player with the most appearances that season.”
The story of Beckham's careerGallery
From Manchester to Paris via Madrid, Milan and LA, flick through 20 images of David's incredible playing career.
Becks left United in 2003 with 394 appearances, 85 goals and 13 trophies. He joined Real Madrid and won two trophies in Spain, including the La Liga title, before embarking on an American adventure in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy. A loan spell at AC Milan was enjoyed in that time, and in January 2013 he signed for Paris Saint-Germain to finish his illustrious career in France. On the international front, he won 115 England caps and proudly captained the Three Lions.
A LEGENDARY ILLUSTRATION
Thanks to United fan and Old Trafford season-ticket holder Stanley Chow for his portrait of David Beckham. To see more of his ‘Treble Winners’ collection, visit www.thestanleychowprintshop.com.