David Beckham: Start of an Illustrious Career Begins With 11 Years at Manchester United

David BeckhamAs a schoolboy, David Beckham represented the county of Essex; he had trials with Leyton Orient and attended Tottenham Hotspur’s school of excellence.

David Beckham began his remarkable career at Manchester United between the years 1992 and 2003. He was a part of the Youth Team in 1992, which went on to win the FA Youth Cup. That group of players in that team have since been known as the ‘Class of 92’. That year, he also made his first team debut, albeit a substitute appearance in the League Cup against Brighton & Hove Albion. Shortly afterwards, he signed his first professional contract.

On December 7, 1994, David Beckham made his UEFA Champions League debut for Manchester United, scoring a goal in a 4-0 home victory over Galatasaray in the final game of the group stage. However, this victory was of little use as they finished third in their group behind Barcelona on goal difference. For a part of the 1994/85 season, Beckham was sent out on loan to Preston North End to gain some first team experience. Whilst on loan, he did impress as he scored 2 goals in 5 appearances, most notably, scoring directly from a corner kick.

Beckham returned to Manchester United in 1995, and he finally made his Premier League debut on April 2, 1995, in a goalless draw with Leeds United. That season, he made 4 league appearances for United. But, he was left out of the squad for United’s FA Cup final clash with Everton that same season.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had plenty of confidence in the young players at his club. Beckham was part of a young group of players Ferguson brought into United in the 1990s, which are known as “Fergie’s Fledglings”: this group also included the likes of Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, and Phil Neville. Beckham was swiftly establishing himself as United’s right-sided midfielder, rather than a right-winger in the style of his predecessor Andrei Kanchelskis, and he helped the club to win the Premier League and FA Cup double that season, as he scored the winner in the semi-final against Chelsea. Despite him playing regular football at club level, Beckham was unable to break into the England squad before Euro 96′.

David BeckhamAt the beginning of the 1996/97 season, David Beckham was given the Number 10 shirt, a number which had most recently been worn by Mark Hughes at the club. On August 17 1996, the first day of the Premier League season, Beckham became somewhat a household name as he scored a stunning goal from the half way line against Wimbledon. When scoring this spectacular goal, Beckham did so wearing boots that were custom made for Charlie Miller, which were given to Beckham by mistake. Also, in a UK poll conducted by Channel 4 in 2002, the British public voted that goal No.18 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. During the 1996/97 season, he became an automatic selection in the United first team as he helped them to retain the Premier League title, and was also voted PFA Young Player of the Year by his fellow professionals.

On 18 May 1997, Eric Cantona retired as a player, which left the coveted number 7 shirt available, and with Teddy Sheringham arriving as Cantona’s successor from Tottenham Hotspur, Beckham left his number 10 shirt for Sheringham and he picked up the number 7 shirt. United started the 1997/98 season well, but erratic performances in the second half of the season meant they ended in 2nd place, behind big rivals Arsenal.

In the 1998/99 season, Beckham was part of a history making, treble winning Manchester United team that won the Premier League title, FA Cup, and Champions League all in the same season. There had been speculation that the criticism he received following his sending off at the World Cup would see him leave England, but he decided to stay at Manchester United. In fact, he played a big role in United achieving this great feat. Knowing only a win would confirm the title on the final day, he scored United’s equalizer after Les Ferdinand had put Tottenham ahead. United then went on to win the game and claim the title.

In the 1999 Champions league final against Bayern Munich, he was played in center midfield, as first choice center midfield pairing Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were suspended for the game. United were 1-0 down for most of the match and were close to losing, but then came a comeback of dramatic proportions. They scored 2 crucial goals in stoppage time at end of the second half, both resulting from Beckham corners as he provided assist for Sheringham’s equalizer and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winner as United became European Champions for the second time in the club’s history. That season’s performances and those crucial assists led to him being runner up to Rivaldo in the European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

David BeckhamDespite his performances and achievements in the 1998/99 season, he remained unpopular in the eyes of the media and opposition fans. He was also heavily criticized for a deliberate foul in United’s World Club Championship match against Necaxa. It was even suggested that his wife was a bad influence on him, and that it might be in United’s interest to sell him. But his manager was quick to publicly protect his player, and he stayed at the club. During the 1999/00 season, there was a lot of talk of him being transferred to Italian giants, Juventus, but the move never happened. Beckham stayed at the club ad helped them to retain the title, winning it by an 18-point margin after being pushed by Arsenal and Leeds United for most of the season. United won their final 11 league games of that season, with Beckham scoring 5 times during the great run of form. He managed 6 league goals in total that season and scored 8 goals in all competitions.

By the early 2000s, Beckham’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson had begun to deteriorate. This was possible as a result of Beckham’s fame and commitments away from football. In 2000, Beckham was given permission to look after his son Brooklyn, who had Gastroenteritis, but it had also left Sir Alex Ferguson furious after Victoria Beckham was pictured at a London Fashion Week event that same night. He responded by fining Beckham the maximum amount which was permitted, then £50,000, which was 2 week’s wages. As a result, he was also dropped for a crucial clash against Leeds United. Sir Alex Ferguson later criticized Beckham in his autobiography, claiming he had not been “fair to his teammates.”  Despite all of this though, he did have a good season with United, helping them to win yet another Premier league title.

“He was never really a problem until he got married. He used to go into work with the academy coaches at night time; he was a fantastic young lad. Getting married into that entertainment scene was a difficult thing - from that moment, his life was never going to be the same. He is such a big celebrity, football is only a small part.” -Sir Alex Ferguson on David Beckham’s marriage (2007)

David BeckhamHe was a key player in United winning their 3rd successive league crown in the 2000/01 season (only the fourth time it had been achieved by any club). He scored 9 goals that season, all of which were scored in the Premier League. On April 10, 2002, Beckham was injured during a UEFA Champions league match against Deportivo La Coruna, breaking the second metatarsal bone in his left foot. The British media were then speculating that the injury may have been caused deliberately, as the player who injured Beckham was Argentine Aldo Duscher, and England were due to meet Argentina in that year’s World Cup. The injury prevented Beckham from playing any further part of that season for United, as they lost the league to Arsenal and were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayer Leverkusen at the semi-final stage.

David Beckham then went on to sign a 3-year contract extension at Manchester United in May that year, following months of negotiations with the club, mostly concerning extra payments for his image rights. The income from his new contract, along with many of his endorsement deals, meant he was now the highest-paid player in the world at that time. Despite the injury, the 2001/02 season was arguable Beckham’s best at United, scoring 11 goals in 28 league games and a total of 16 goals in 42 appearances in total, the best tally of his career.

Following an injury early in the 2002/03 season, Beckham was unable to regain his place in the team, and was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the right side of midfield. His relationship with Ferguson deteriorated even further on February 15, 2003, when following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson kicked or threw a boot that struck Beckham round the eye, leaving him requiring stitches. That summer, he was sold to Real Madrid having completely fallen out with Ferguson, but he did manage 11 goals in 52 appearances that season in all competitions. However still a first choice for England, and was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to football on June 13, 2003.

Written by OneFutbol