By the time the 2002 World Cup in South Korea had come around, David Beckham had rejuvinated his reputation - from being the scapegoat at France 98, to Englands wonderboy 4 years later. Nicknamed 'Golden Balls' and with the nations hopes now pinned on his immaculate right boot, his new found popularity was a far cry from the reaction which followed Englands exit from the world cup in France. Unfairly blamed for Englands exit to the argentinans on penalties, due to his petulant 'flick' at Diego Simeone which received a harsh red card - Beckham was booed across the grounds during the 1998/99 Premier League Season.
But what followed during the late nineties and into the early noughties, was a respect that this guy was actually an exceptional football player - who possessed the best delivery in the world. Coupled with a likeable and incredibly marketable image on and off the field, by the time the 2002 world cup came around, Becks was England's main man.
The draw for the world cup must have been fate. England had been drawn in the group against the Swedes, Nigeria and of course, the Argentinians. On paper, a difficult prospect - but in the mind of Beckham, it was the perfect match. It was the chance to make ammends and shut up the haters.
It was a cagey match, with little to seperate the two sides. Unlike the game in St. Ettienne, this match was destined to be decided on one goal, perhaps a free kick or a set play, as the well-drilled South Americans knew how to tactically stifle the English. Michael Owen, who emerged onto the scene by scoring a memorable solo goal 4 years before, was now in his prime and a striker to watch. It was him who, once again, bettered the astute Argentina back line by winning a somewhat debatable penalty from the challenge of Mauricio Pochettino. This was it, it was a penalty to England - the chance David Beckham had been waiting four years for.
Evidently feeling the pressue as he placed the ball on the penalty spot, Beckham exhaled a big breath and glared directly towards the ball. The best set piece taker in the world was now a kick away from rewriting all those wrongs from France 98. The whistle blew and up stepped the Mohican-Donning Beckham drilling the ball expertly low into the net.
No burning effigy's will be over the back pages the next morning. No hate mail will be received - just good old English pride this time. The roar in the ground was reflected by the relief of every woman, man and child in England Back home who were skiving off work to see if he could get his own back. Well the answer was yes, yes he could.