David Beckham: Midfielder David Beckham made his debut with the English national team in 1996 and quickly rose to soccer stardom. He became internationally known for his blistering shots and long-range free kicks.
David Beckham, born in 1975, English soccer player whose long, bending shots have made him popular in England and around the world.
David Robert Joseph Beckham was born in the Leytonstone area of London. He was signed by the Manchester United club as a junior player while still in his teens. Beckham made his first appearance on the senior team for Manchester United as a substitute in 1992, and his first league game came in 1995 against Leeds United. On the first day of the 1996-97 season, he made a stunning goal in a game against Wimbledon, scoring from his own team’s half of the field. Two weeks later he made his international debut for England in a World Cup qualifying match.
An attacking midfielder with a hard shot, Beckham is a specialist at scoring on long-range free kicks. He led Manchester United to titles in the Premier League (England’s top soccer league) in 1996 and 1997 and was voted the Professional Football Association (FA) Young Player of the Year for the 1996-97 season.
Beckham rose to international prominence during the 1998 World Cup when he scored on a spectacular free kick in the early rounds, before being disqualified for kicking an opponent during England's second-round match against Argentina—an incident that provoked a great deal of criticism by England's followers. Despite much derision from opposing fans over the ejection, Beckham helped Manchester United to an unprecedented championship run in the 1998-99 season, winning the European Champions League, FA Premiership, and FA Cup titles. Manchester United also won the Premiership title in the 1999-2000, 2000-01, and 2002-03 seasons. At the end of 2001 Beckham was runner-up to Portuguese star Luis Figo in the voting for the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Player of the Year Award. In 2003 Beckham’s professional contract was sold to the Spanish club Real Madrid.
Beckham was named captain of the English national team in 2000 and kept the title under the team's new coach, Sven-Göran Eriksson, for the 2002 World Cup. One of Beckham’s most dramatic national team goals came against Greece in 2001, a late score that clinched a berth for England in the World Cup tournament. Beckham broke his foot in the months leading up to the 2002 World Cup, however, and barely managed to recover in time for the tournament. He still managed to lead his team to the quarterfinals, where England was beaten by eventual winner Brazil.
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