Match Rewind: The best of Beckham


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.


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