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

Martin Cloake

17th, August 2015

beckham-predators

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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