David Beckham’s most memorable moments

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Here we take a look back at the roller coaster ride David Beckham took us on throughout his glittering career with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and England.

There have been plenty of highs and lows along the way, with glorious goals, silly red cards, confrontations with fans and numerous trophies all encapsulated in his mercurial career.

Enjoy.

PHOTOS: The life and times of David Beckham

Scoring from the halfway line against Wimbledon

In his first full season with Manchester United, Beckham announced his arrival on the scene with a tremendous strike from inside his own half. Of course, spectacular goals were to become a benchmark of his career, but this was the first glorious strike that we all saw. On the first day of the 1996 Premier League season, Beckham picked up the ball just inside his own half and saw goalkeeper Neil Sullivan off his line. Audaciously, Beckham sent a long distance lob over Sullivan and into the net.

Beckham sent off against Argentina in 1998 World Cup

David Beckham became public enemy number one in England after he was sent off for kicking out at Argentina’s Diego Simeone in the second half. The game was locked at 2-2, with the arch-rivals clashing all over the pitch. Beckham was dragged to the ground by Simeone but then inexcusably kicked out and was shown a straight red. England went on to lose 4-3 on penalties with the British media blaming Beckham for the Three Lions’ exit.

Beckham sends England to World Cup 2002

Beckham went from zero to hero, as his last-minute free kick against Greece sealed England’s qualification to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. With the Three Lions trailing 2-1 in the 93rd minute, Beckham stepped up to curl home a trademark free kick into the top corner and send the nation wild. His place as the national hero was restored.

Fall out with Fergie

Beckham’s time at his boyhood club Manchester United was all but over after a bizarre incident with Sir Alex Ferguson in a dressing room bust-up. After an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, Ferguson kicked a soccer cleat across the room and it struck Beckham on the head, giving him a wound that required stitches. Five months later, Beckham left Old Trafford for good. He signed for Real Madrid.

Success…in the end, at Real Madrid

Beckham joined Real Madrid for £25million on July 1, 2003. He chose to wear the number 23 shirt, after his love for Michael Jordan. The Londoner had an up and down time in the Spanish capital but finished his career there on a high, after winning the La Liga title in his final game with Madrid. He spent four years in the Spanish capital and was determined to leave on a high note.

Move to MLS and the LA Galaxy

Beckham’s relationship with Madrid was going downhill rapidly and that continued when it was announced before the end of his final season there, that a move to the LA Galaxy had already been agreed. Beckham signed for LA for $6.5 million a year, but despite this the Galaxy actually earned more than their outlay with the merchandise and other spin offs that came from ‘brand Beckham.’ His first few years in LA proved to be a let down with his own fans confronting Beckham about his performances and why he extended his loan deal to AC Milan. Plenty of other incidents also marred his first years in MLS.

100th cap for England

In 2008 David Beckham joined an elite-group of English soccer players by winning his 100th cap for the national team. He went on to make 115 appearances for England making him the second-highest capped player in English history behind goalkeeper Peter Shilton. He is the most capped outfield player in English history.

Goodbye LA, hello Paris

Beckham signed off his career in Major League Soccer by winning two-straight MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy. His storybook ending came at home against the Houston Dynamo, as LA won 3-1 in December 2012 to finish his time in MLS on a high. After much speculation and deliberation, Beckham decided to join Paris Saint-Germain for the remainder of the Ligue 1 season. He won the French League title with two games to go, becoming the only Englishman in history to win league titles in four different countries.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?

An under-the-radar Premier League XI

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The Premier League’s international break invites reflection on both what we’ve seen so far and what’s to come.

For example, what if we left out the superstars?

For whatever reason, this one is recalling the state of mind of 2015-16, when we were digesting that Leicester City very much looked the part of Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Herrera on “intense” Zlatan ]

For a lot of us, that meant delving into statistics and seeing what matched the eye test. Many started Googling the name “N'Golo Kante“, the dynamic disruptor who’d move to Chelsea in August.

He’s a household name now, with some personalities even arguing that he should buck the trend of Ballon d’Or nominees including only major statistic producers (There was a time when names like Fabio Cannavaro and Matthias Sammer claimed the honor, you know).

For our purposes, we’ll use a pair of advanced stats sites and the good ol’ eye test. (Of the sites we’re using, Squawka seems to skew toward high attack scores, while WhoScored tilts a bit toward the back, so life is good if a player hits both sites’ Top 50).

Before getting into our team — we promise no 10-picture, click-to-reveal-next stuff — some stats that stood out.

— Three players have had outstanding “short” seasons for different reasons.

  • Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi took a short spell to adjust to the Premier League after arriving in January, but has been the Foxes’ most influential player in their recent turnaround).
  • Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake essentially was the Cherries’ first-half success before heading back to Chelsea where Antonio Conte won’t move him ahead of Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses (and that’s actually understandable as you’ll see below).
  • Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas just doesn’t feature a ton for Conte, but in limited time his per-90 stats on Squawka trail only Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.

— The following players have risen well above most of their teammates but fall short of the league Top 50 on either site: Ben Gibson (Boro), Michael Keane and Ben Mee (Burnley), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Joe Allen (Stoke City), Jose Holebas and Troy Deeney (Watford), Gareth McAuley (West Brom).

— Watford, as a side, is seemingly the choose to a sort of MVP. On WhoScored, not a single player rises above 7, but there are a host in the very high sixes.

— In very different systems, John Stones (91.8) and Adam Forshaw (89.2) are thriving in pass percentage.

Oriol Romeu of Southampton and Victor Wanyama of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

— Southampton’s Oriel Romeu and Stoke’s Erik Pieters rank fourth and fifth respectively in tackles per game.

— In a team that has to intervene a ton, Hull City’s Curtis Davies the league with 3.8 interceptions per game.


Honorable mention

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Boro), Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Ake, Victor Wanyama (Spurs), Willian (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Harry Winks (Spurs), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth).

Forwards: Joshua King (Bournemouth), Fernando Llorente (Swansea City), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)


Goalkeeper

Ben Foster (West Brom) — With the highest performance score in the position on WhoScored, Foster has claimed all 95 balls he’s went up for and has a league-best 76 saves.

Defenders

Nicolas Otamendi (Man City, 7.49, 29.18) — One of few defenders to rate high in interceptions despite being on a team that doesn’t concede loads of chances or possession.

George Friend (Middlesbrough) — Just out of the upper echelon on the advanced stats site, he is in rarefield air in traditional stats interceptions and tackles.

Steve Cook (Bournemouth, 7.16, 22.76) — Jumps out of the advanced stats on a Cherries team which has faced plenty of attacking pressure.

Antonio Valencia (Manchester United, 7.28, 27.45) — There’s a reason Jose Mourinho rewarded him with an extension not long into the manager’s tenure at Old Trafford.

Midfielders

Ander Herrera (Manchester United, 7.44, 36.64) – Long-heralded at Athletic Bilbao, Herrera is finally showing what made him so sought. One odd stat that may be explained by his willingness to run to any situation: he’s very high in average times dribbled past.

Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, 7.34, 20.57) – The best player in Aston Villa’s awful 2015-16, he’s been arguably as effective as N’Golo Kante. Seriously.

Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) – Once the top player on a relegated QPR, Phillips is fifth in the Premier League in assists despite missing the last four matches with injury.

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur, 7.41, 31.89) – Second in the PL in key passes, he doesn’t get the plaudits of English teammates Dele Alli and Harry Kane. The relationships are very symbiotic.

 

Forwards

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 7.44) – On an under-achieving team, Zaha’s statistics are wild. He’s the most-fouled player in the league, and attempts/completes the most dribbles in the PL. He gives the ball away a lot, too, but that happens when you’re the focal point of everything your team does in the attacking third.

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, 30.54) – The Nigerian turns 21 in May, and has four goals and seven assists across all competitions.

Herrera: Ibrahimovic competitive drive insatiable in everything

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Ander Herrera is dishing the goods on his Manchester United teammates while on Spain duty this week, and was asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swede is a fierce competitor on and off the pitch, which Herrera jokes is an ever-present challenge to personal patience.

[ MORE: Deulofeu laments early Messi talk ]

It almost seems like there’s a bit of envy that Ibrahimovic can charge into public comments the way Herrera goes into tackles.

From Marca:

“[Ibrahimovic] is a genius, he’s very intense because he wants to win everything, even football-tennis,” Herrera said to Radio MARCA.

“He assumes this role of doing or saying what he likes in front of the media because he does not care, he can say that he’ll score 30 goals or is the best because he can afford to.”

There’s certainly something to stature when it comes to saying what you feel (though on the other hand, being egotistical is rarely controversial. It’s not like Ibrahimovic is often railing on controversial soccer or social issues).

We’re sure there are plenty of players across all sports, casual and professional, who don’t understand hyper-competitive teammates, but we love a guy who doesn’t turn it down when it comes to on-the-field activities. Hopefully Ibrahimovic is the Jaromir Jagr of soccer.