“The first thing which came to my mind when I saw him was that he was too pretty to be a footballer. That became his nickname: Pretty Boy,” chuckled Gary Neville in the Class of 92 documentary when asked about the boy who would go on to become a world-renowned superstar.
David Beckham is now a household name with a whole new generation of footballers now coming up religiously, idolising him. Apart from his media-hyped public life, more often than not, one needs to keep reminding the world that Beckham’s trade as a footballer has gotten him immortalised as a deadly free-kick specialist. It wasn’t quite the knuckleball, but the vicious curl on a Beckham free-kick did get his name onto a movie.
In his 20 year career as a professional footballer, he scored a whopping 65 goals from outside the box, which is more than half of all the goals he ever scored. He scored 29 for Manchester United, his boyhood club, 14 for Real Madrid, 12 for LA Galaxy, 7 for England national team with 2 more for Preston North End, where he spent a season on loan in his teenage years, and 1 lone goal for AC Milan.
Here we look at some of his greatest free-kicks, in no particular order, as ranking them would be an injustice to the legacy of the player.
#1 LA Galaxy vs Kansas City, MLS Cup, 2011
Beckham’s move to LA Galaxy had largely been seen as a big commercial bumper deal. That is still not to say that he left the American club as a cult symbol and his flair and athleticism seemed to have never gotten weaker there.
On 15th May 2011, with Galaxy leading 3-1 against Sporting Kansas City, a player was fouled further back from the edge of the box at a steep angle, a good 30-yards away. Up stepped the former Manchester United man and curled in a goal of such beauty that the slightly dull stadium erupted in ecstasy.
No keeper in the world could've saved that and it would just be the start of his best season with Galaxy, at the end of which he would go on to accumulate a bunch of assists and win them the MLS Cup. Not bad for a 37-year-old.
Though he would score even more sensational goals for the American club, like a 70-yard goal or from a corner kick, his penchant for free-kicks lit up the MLS in the three seasons he stayed at LA.