Everyone knows David Beckham, irrespective of whether you give two hoots about football or not. That's the thing about him. He transcends the sport. Whether it is his free kicks, his hairstyle, his underwear or his tattoos, everything about him makes the news.

So where did it all begin?

Well, to make any sense of things, we have to go to this goal against Wimbledon in 1996. It is perhaps the greatest goal scored on the opening day of any Premier League season.

The 21-year-old had announced himself in floating style from 60 yards out. The Old Trafford Faithful had found a new favourite. Born & bred in Manchester, he was already showing promise that he would one day create history...

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Moving on to the 1998 World Cup. England were playing arch-rivals Argentina. 

The first half was extraordinary. The scores were level at 2-2 and England were actually doing well against a strong Argentine line up. Beckham had given a wonderful through ball for a young Michael Owen to race onto and score one of the greatest goals in World Cup history.

Source: telegraph

A minute into the second half, Beckham was pushed to the ground by Diego Simeone. And lying on the ground, he lashed his leg out at Simeone right in front of the referee. A red card brandished by the man in-charge led to England's dead-ball specialist being sent off for an early shower.

Source: GQ

The game went to penalties and the tired English legs, having held on with 10 men for 75 minutes, lost in the shootout. 

Beckham was dubbed as the villain of the World Cup. His effigies were burnt and hung from lamp posts all around England.

Source: dailymail

But he fought on. He decided that when the time was right, he would write his name in history as one of the greats. 

Four years on, he was given the captain's armband to lead the English charge at the 2002 World Cup. He had earned it. His performances with Manchester United had been impressive.

Source: musrenenama

But before the World Cup, England were to play Greece in their final qualifier and needed at least a draw to go through. They were trailing 2-1. All hope seemed lost. But not for the English captain. 

He would not have it. What the crowd witnessed that day was individual brilliance. A performance that could have made you cry. His will, his determination, his resolve saw him leave everything on the pitch.

There he was, winning challenges...

Running with the ball...

Pulling out all the tricks in the book...

He knew this was his opportunity. He knew he had to prove it to his countrymen and the world that he was worth so much more. Beckham did not want history to remember him as the villain of the '98 World Cup. 

But time was running out. For him, for England.

In the 93rd minute of the game, in the final seconds of added time, England won a free kick. 25 yards from goal. Beckham approached the ball, placed it on the spot and sized up the goalie and the wall. 

It would be the last kick of the match. It was now or never. Do or die.  

Source: youtube

 "Beckham can raise the roof here with a goal," said the commentator.

After all, they were playing on home soil. Five seconds of silence followed. Beckham looked around the wall again. The fans were praying, yelling 'Come on David, bend it like Beckham.'

And he did. 

The ball sailed over the wall, curved to the left and ruffled the net in the top corner.

The stadium erupted. The beauty lay in the inevitability. The part that destiny played. The last kick in the last minute. 

The best individual performance in history was capped off in the perfect way. It wasn't just about how well he played, but about the courage he showed. As a fan summed it up: "You watch it now, you watch it tomorrow, you watch it the day after, the hairs on the back of your neck still stand up. It is the closest you can get to orgasmic!" 

Source: thetimes

Beckham's celebration in front of his fans, the look on his face, the relief. It was like finding lost love. In that moment, he had declared his romance with the game, with a curling kick of the ball that saw him become a hero. And he did it for the colours he wore so proudly. For his fans, for his country.

And you know what else?

England played Argentina in the next World Cup as well. They won the game 1-0. And the scorer - David Beckham!

Source: skysports