David Beckham's 10 greatest games
David Beckham has yet to make his MLS debut due to a nagging ankle injury, but he's had plenty of memorable moments in his playing career. Here's a look at his 10 best performances all-time.
10. Real Madrid 2 Real Betis 1, Aug. 30, 2003
Reasons for Beckham's popularity in Madrid stretched beyond his looks or his dead-ball prowess. His commitment -- seen as typically English -- was among them, but the goal he scored in his La Liga debut was uncharacteristic. Beckham is not renowned for arriving in the six-yard box to side foot home, but this was the exception. It marked the culmination of a move involving four galacticos, along with Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Ronaldo. Coming in the third minute, it was the first goal of the La Liga season, and it showed he had not lost his sense of timing.
9. Manchester United 4 Galatasaray 0, Dec. 7, 1994
If it wasn't for regulations limiting the number of foreign players in European competitions, it is unlikely the teenage Beckham would have faced Galatasaray. But he did, and he made a lasting impression in his Champions League debut. The young midfielder immediately displayed assurance in possession, a wonderful passing range and a deadly cross. He also opened his United account, and there would be an additional 87 goals over the next nine years.
8. Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3, April 23, 2003
Beckham is often at his best when he has a point to prove. After the breakdown of his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, he was omitted for the Champions League quarterfinal; a semifit Juan Sebastian Veron started. After seething on the bench, Beckham was belatedly introduced with half an hour remaining. His imperious free kick and close-range finish secured victory on the night, though his future teammates at Real advanced on aggregate.
7. Tottenham 3 Manchester United 5, Sept. 29, 2001
When Manchester United's version of the galacticos were good, they were supreme, and never more so than in a remarkable comeback at White Hart Lane.
With Roy Keane injured, it was Beckham's first match as United's captain. Spurs led 3-0 at halftime. Game over? Hardly. Andy Cole scored straight away and Laurent Blanc headed in Beckham's corner. Then Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron -- in perhaps his finest United performance -- gave Manchester the lead. Beckham, who scored 22 times that season, completed the victory with a high-class strike from distance.
6. Real Madrid 4 Barcelona 2, April 10, 2005
The day Beckham was probably the best player in 'El Classico'. Although he was not among Real's scorers, he did create two goals in typical fashion.
After Zinedine Zidane scored Real's first goal, Beckham's free kick confounded the Barca defense for Ronaldo to head in. The third score came from Raul, but the fourth, though scored in the Bernabeu, was made in England. As they had done countless times on international duty, Beckham provided the perceptive through ball that Michael Owen finished.
5. Deportivo la Coruna 0 Manchester United 2, April 2, 2002
Beckham started a comprehensive demolition of a much-fancied Deportivo side. His sublime shot from 30 yards beat Jose Molina as Manchester United recorded its first victory over a Spanish side in Spain. The second leg is remembered more for Beckham's broken foot, but the first was a footballing triumph, especially for arguably United's greatest ever midfield, containing Beckham, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs.
4. Argentina 0 England 1, June 7, 2002
Revenge is rarely sweeter. Four years after one Argentinean, Diego Simeone, provoked a reaction that meant Beckham exited the 1998 World Cup in disgrace and two months after another, Aldo Duscher, broke his metatarsal to endanger his participation in the 2002 tournament, Beckham provided an eloquent response. His nerveless penalty, clinically dispatched one minute before halftime, defeated the favorites to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy. As Argentina was eliminated in the group stages, Beckham certainly had his vengeance.
3. Wimbledon 0 Manchester United 3, Aug. 17, 1996
Lobs are not an unusual sight at Wimbledon, but they are rarely this spectacular. Surely, none have had the long-term consequences of Beckham's.
With Manchester United 2-0 ahead, the midfielder took aim in the final minute. The difference was that he was within his own half at the time. As his 60-yard shot sailed over the helpless goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, his life changed irrevocably. He had been a regular on United's team for a year, without attracting vast international attention. That soon changed: by the end of the month, he won the first of his 96 England caps. Superstardom beckoned.
2. Bayern Munich 1 Manchester United 2, May 26, 1999
It had the most dramatic of denouements but, even when it appeared Manchester United would lose, Beckham's was a memorable display. With Roy Keane and Paul Scholes suspended, he made a rare appearance in the center of United's midfield, and he was indefatigable. But United left it so late that a despairing George Best had left the Nou Camp and Bayern's ribbons were on the Champions League trophy. Then Beckham whipped in a corner from the left flank. After Ryan Giggs miscued his shot, Teddy Sheringham swiveled to turn it in. The score was tied at 1-1. Deeper into injury time, another Beckham corner. Sheringham supplied the flick-on, the predatory Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the finish and Manchester United were champions of Europe.
1. England 2 Greece 2, Oct. 6, 2001
Beckham's tour de force. In a match in which -- with the exception of Teddy Sheringham -- England played woefully, its captain single-handedly ensured its presence at the World Cup. Because Finland was drawing with Germany, England only needed a point to guarantee its place in Korea and Japan the following summer. Against Greece, however, England trailed twice. Sheringham supplied the first equalizer, glancing in a trademark Beckham free kick. As time ticked away from England, only Beckham, believed to have run more than 10 miles that afternoon, seemed capable of helping the team avert defeat. Finally, he did, with a 93rd-minute free kick that was perfect in both its timing and execution.
Richard Jolly writes for ESPNsoccernet and covers the English Premiership and UEFA Champions League. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.