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David Beckham: Thanks for the memories

TEAMtalk Editor Simon Wilkes invites a host of journalists to recall their favourite moments from David Beckham's illustrious career.

Last Updated: 27/11/13 at 15:57 Post Comment

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Simon Wilkes, TEAMtalk Editor: I'm heading back to 1994 for my favourite David Beckham memory.

I was 19 and starting my first year of a journalism degree at Preston University, so asked to cover PNE for the uni paper Pluto.

The Lilywhites were playing in the old Third Division back then, with tough-tackling defender David Moyes at centre-back, and it's fair to say the quality of football was not the best.

That was until Alex Ferguson (he wasn't a Sir then) decided to send a young midfielder on loan to Deepdale for a taste of first-team experience.

Beckham immediately looked like he was from a different planet, spraying 40-yard passes around the pitch, beating opponents with ease and displaying consummate composure on the ball.

In five appearances, Beckham scored two goals - one a trademark free-kick, finding the top left-hand corner from 20 yards, the other straight from a corner on the left flank.

If memory serves me right, Preston's hierarchy mortgaged Deepdale to the hilt and lodged a £1million offer for his services. It's fair to say the bid was rejected, Beckham was recalled to Old Trafford - and made his Premier League debut for United on 2 April 1995.

The rest, as they say, is history.

James Marshment, TEAMtalk Deputy Editor: 'Redemption'. That's the one word you would use to describe David Beckham's penalty against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup finals.

Having been red-carded against the same opponents in St Etienne four years earlier, much had been made of Beckham and England's next meeting with the old enemy in Sapporo.

So when Mauricio Pochettino (yes, the same one!) was adjudged to have felled Michael Owen in the box, the watching world held its breath as Beckham stepped forward.

The penalty itself wasn't anything special. But much like Stuart Pearce's effort against Spain at Euro 96, you could see what it meant to the player. It truly epitomised the Lion-hearted courage and determination to succeed that Beckham displayed wearing an England shirt.

People take pride in all sorts of things. But fewer took more pride than playing for and captaining his country than Beckham did, and it's for this moment which I will remember him most fondly.

Pete Fraser, Sky Sports journalist: My favourite Beckham moment is his free-kick against Colombia, when I had to break off from revision for my GCSEs to watch the game!

Beckham had surprisingly not started either of England's opening matches of the 1998 World Cup against Tunisia and Romania. Manager Glenn Hoddle had questioned the midfielder's mentality amid his early, quickly growing celebrity status.

But any doubts were answered with a trademark free-kick in the third group game against Colombia. Beckham started and scored the second goal in a 2-0 win which ensured qualification. His celebration was also pretty memorable as he stood in front of England's fans.

Jon Holmes, TEAMtalk journalist: A home game against Finland might not sound like the scenario for a particularly noteworthy David Beckham display, but his performance in the qualifier in Liverpool in 2001 was colossal and key to England reaching the World Cup the following year.

It was Sven-Goran Eriksson's first competitive game in charge but England were dismal in the first half and trailed to an Aki Riihilahti goal. Japan/Korea seemed far, far away for those of us stood in the Kop.

Yet in only his third game as Three Lions captain, Beckham took control as he drove the team forward from midfield, helping to create Michael Owen's equaliser before the break. Soon after the restart, he drove a powerful swerving shot across goal to put England ahead, resulting in the rare sight of an Anfield crowd cheering him to the rafters.

Everyone remembers that free-kick at Old Trafford in October, but Finland were tough opponents at the time (they held Germany to a stalemate in Gelsenkirchen while England drew with Greece to scrape through as Group 9 winners). Beckham's individual performance and his goal - one of the few he scored from open play for his country - summed up his game: inspirational endeavour, and a remarkable right foot.

Mark Holmes, TEAMtalk journalist: It's an obvious one, but Beckham's performance and injury-time free-kick against Greece in 2001 will forever live in my memory.

England, needing a draw to make the 2002 World Cup, were dreadful but, after they had fallen behind for a second time in the 69th minute, Beckham took matters into his own hands. Perhaps I'm being nostalgic, but it seemed as though he was everywhere, winning tackles, pinging passes about and getting closer and closer with a succession of free-kicks.

Then, in the final minute of stoppage time, he finally found the top corner with a magnificent free-kick to send the nation into raptures. And what a celebration!

Ian Watson, TEAMtalk journalist: His red card against Argentina at France '98 made David Beckham public enemy number one during the summer of 1998. Effigies of the England midfielder hung from east London lamp posts, incited in part by headlines such as '10 Heroic Lions, One Stupid Boy' and 'You're Just A Joke Becks'.

Manchester United fans, however, rallied around their number seven and Old Trafford became Beckham's haven away from the threats and abuse that was aimed at him and his family. Before their first away match of the season at West Ham, where the team coach was pelted with stones and bottles, United opened their Premier League season at home to Leicester City.

Things were not going according to plan. After a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Charity Shield the previous week, United found themselves 2-0 down with 10 minutes to go in the Manchester sunshine. Substitute Teddy Sheringham pulled one back for the hosts, when he deflected in a Beckham piledriver, but Leicester still held on to the lead given to them by Emile Heskey and Tony Cottee as the 94th minute arrived.

The Foxes, though, committed the cardinal sin of conceding a free-kick 25 yards from Kasey Keller's goal, giving United and Beckham one last kick to rescue the match. Old Trafford was hushed as Beckham began his angled run up to the ball, which floated over the Leicester wall before it dipped towards the bottom corner of Keller's net.

Beckham barely broke his stride as he sprinted towards the Scoreboard End, unleashing in his celebration much of the frustration that had built up since that night in St Etienne two months previously.

The United fans and players celebrated wildly, with even Sir Alex Ferguson - or just Alex Ferguson, as he was still known then - losing himself for a few moments before he ushered his players back towards the halfway line to get the game restarted. A solitary point at home to Leicester is not normally greeted with such glee at Old Trafford, but his late intervention was confirmation to all at the Theatre of Dreams that Beckham was not going to be beaten by the hate mob.

Rob McCarthy, TEAMtalk journalist: I have many great and obvious memories of Beckham during his playing career but I'll be a bit different and look back on an iconic moment from last summer that doesn't involve him curling an effort into the top corner or spraying 60-yard passes left, right and centre.

That memorable moment I refer to is of him piloting a Bladerunner RIB 35 speedboat down the River Thames, with the Olympic torch flickering in front of him and looking more like James Bond than an LA Galaxy footballer.

Given the hugely important part Becks played in bringing the 2012 Games to London, he was fully deserving of his magical moment in the spotlight and is a true legend of English sport in my eyes.

Pete Hall, TEAMtalk journalist: My favourite David Beckham moment sums up why he is widely recognised as one of the best crossers of the ball of our time.

Chasing an unprecedented Treble, Manchester United took on a star-studded Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash at Old Trafford, and were immediately put in the driving seat thanks to a pinpoint Beckham cross, which Dwight Yorke couldn't miss.

Under the cosh from the talented Inter outfit containing the irrepressible Roberto Baggio, feisty Ivan Zamarano and old-foe Diego Simeone, a second goal was needed to calm the United faithful's nerves, and Beckham emulated his previous assist with an incredible right-wing cross just before half-time for Yorke again to dutifully put the tie firmly in United's grasp.

A 1-1 draw in the San Siro meant United progressed, and the rest is history, but if coaches were ever looking to teach kids how to cross, under intense pressure, just watching Beckham's deliveries in that Inter clash will cover almost all bases.

Tom McDermott, TEAMtalk journalist: Mine is David Beckham's sublime pass in a game with Rapid Vienna.

It was a Champions League game in 1996 if memory serves me right and a ball by Beckham which was described by Glenn Hoddle as 'a pass made in heaven'. It was a glimpse into the future in all that Beckham would achieve with that right foot.

The pinpoint accuracy displayed would be seen in stadiums around Europe for years to come. The pass is exquisite simply because so many players when in such a position waste the ball, have a shot or get caught in possession due to having 'too much time'. Beckham didn't. He took the entire defence out as he delivered what was soon to become a trademark ball into Eric Cantona's path. Beautiful.

They are our magic moments, let us know your favourite memories!

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