By Nick Salzman
Video of David Beckham’s free kick against Greece in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifier. Retrieved from FATV YouTube Channel (October 13, 2009)
It was the 2002 World Cup Qualifier. In Old Trafford, Greece and England faced off for a spot in the World Cup Final. An unfancied Greece team had taken the football world by surprise with a 2-1 lead heading into the final minutes of the match. England seemed destined for an unwanted play-off game against a tough Ukraine side. As the clock continued to run, a German tie with Finland gave England a slimmer of hope. “The Three Lions” only need a tie to advance.
The clock ticked into extra time. 2 minutes more signals the side judge. The Greeks gather numbers behind the ball. A crushed look hangs on the faces of the English crowd. The loyal fans begin praying to whatever high power can bring them victory.
In the 92nd minute, the English goalkeeper sends a last ditch desperation ball into the Greek third. Blue and white shirts launch into the air. As two bodies collide, the referee blows his whistle. Free kick for England. David Beckham, the England captain and football phenom, places the ball on the spot.
Beckham was the golden boy of English football. In 1991 he led Manchester United to become the best club in the world, winning the Premier League title, FA Cup championship, and Champions League title. Beckham’s football talent was undeniable, but there was one aspect of his game that will be remembered throughout history. No one could bend it like Beckham.
Having missed on numerous free kicks throughout the game, Beckham has one last chance to save his country. Feet firmly planted into the turf, Beckham takes a glance at the goal. 30 yards away, dead center of the field. 4 Greek players form a wall on the edge of the box. The stout Greek goalkeeper, Antonis Nikopolidis, stands ready in position. Then, with a few silky strides, Beckham plants and drives his legendary right boot through the ball. This powerful strike sends the ball streaming though the air. Curving perfectly into the top left corner, true artistry shined bright. The Greek goalkeeper stood frozen in the middle of the goal and did nothing but watch true beauty unfold. Beckham had done it again, this time on the biggest of stages.
As fists of victory fly into the air, tears of joy fill the stadium. Hail Beckham, the savior. The free kick king is triumphant.
“David Beckham Biography.” Bio.com. Accessed February 19, 2016. http://www.biography.com/people/david-beckham-9204321#early-years.