2001: Beckham sends England to World Cup

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

If England had won the 2002 World Cup, the moment that would be constantly referred to would be that free kick against Greece.

Of course events in the tournament itself would be held significant, but it was a moment which remains imprinted in memory.

Greece came to Old Trafford as the only obstacle between England and the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. It was a game which Sven Goran Eriksson’s team were expected to win comfortably.

After a nervous start to the campaign, the arrival of Eriksson had propelled the Three Lions to the top of the group including a historic 5-1 demolition of the ‘old enemy’, Germany in Munich.

But bizarrely, England found themselves 2-1 behind with the game trickling into injury time. Goals from Angelos Charisteas and Demis Nikolaidis had twice put the Greeks ahead after Teddy Sheringham had equalised.

In the 93rd minute the visitors conceded a free kick on the edge of their penalty area. David Beckham, who had already wasted a number of set piece opportunities, stepped up for one final attempt.

It was stunning right-footed free kick which curled away from the Greek keeper and into the top left corner. It sent the entire England squad and fans into pandemonium.

David Beckham had sealed England’s passage to the World Cup in the most dramatic way imaginable.


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