His first peak was an amazing goal for Manchester United against Wimbledon in 1996, when he hit the ball from the half-way line, and it floated over the goalkeeper’s head into the back of the net.
Despite having proved his ability, Beckham attracted public ire in August 1998 when he was sent home from France in disgrace after being sent off for kicking out at Argentinian midfielder Diego Simeone in a last-16 defeat during the World Cup. Back in the UK, Beckham was widely blamed for the defeat and slammed by the tabloid newspapers.
However, in November 2000, Beckham captained England on the first of 58 occasions, against Italy in a friendly, and the next year booked them a place in the 2002 World Cup finals with a stunning injury-time free-kick, salvaging a 2-2 draw against Greece. He was later named the BBC’s Sporting Personality of the Year.
In 2002, Beckham became the highest-paid player in the world at the time, but the following year, his relationship with United boss Alex Ferguson hit an all-time low. Following an FA Cup defeat, the furious manager was rumoured to have kicked a football boot that hit Beckham above the eye, and required stitches. The same year, however, he was awarded an OBE for services to football.
In 2006, the player resigned as England captain after his side lost in the World Cup quarter-finals to Portugal, who knocked them out at the same stage of Euro 2004. Beckham returned to the team a year later and earned his 115th cap, an England outfield record.