On This Day In 1996: The Cult Of Beckham Begins With Wonder Goal From The Halfway Line

Martin Cloake

17th, August 2015


This was where it all began. Selhurst Park, in the sunshine, the opening day of the 1996/97 season. Manchester United against Wimbledon.

In the dying minutes of the game, with the Reds leading 2-0, Brian McClair played a simple pass just inside his own half to a heavily-Brylcreemed 21-year-old urchin who had made just 42 appearances during his four years at the club.

The youngster, a certain David Beckham, took a couple of touches towards the halfway line, looked up and, spotting Dons’ keeper Neil Sullivan shuffling forth off his line, unleashed a spectacular shot that ended up in back o’ the net…

Unlike the famous ‘Nayim from the halfway line’ goal from the 1995 Cup Winners Cup Final – which was in fact ‘Nayim from 45 yards out over near the touchline’ (though that doesn’t scan quite as well for chanting purposes, so we’ll allow the artistic licence!) – Beckham’s effort was genuinely from the halfway line.

The goal became one of those iconic moments, like Gazza’s tears, that firmly and finally propelled Beckham into the public eye for good – a position he has embraced with gusto ever since.

You can follow Martin Cloake on Twitter at @MartinCloake and find more about his books and writing at www.martincloake.com

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