David Beckham’s greatest soccer achievement: his uncanny ability to score on a free kick. Here’s our list of Beckham’s five finest free kicks; in honor of the 38-year-old’s retirement, let’s Bend It Like Beckham one more time.
1. England 2-2 Greece, October 6, 2001
Entering the final minute of the World Cup qualifier, England needed to score to have a chance at making the 2002 World Cup. In possibly his best game ever for England, Beckham’s dramatic, last-gasp equalizer at his then-home ground of Old Trafford, in Manchester, was surely one of the greatest moments of his illustrious career.
2. England 2-0 Colombia, June 26, 1998
Beckham’s first goal for England was a free kick, which seems pretty apt. A hot night during the World Cup in France got even steamier thanks to the midfielder’s perfect placement and ever so cheeky celebration which followed.
3. Man Utd 3-3 Barcelona, September 16, 1998
Later that year, Beckham scored another sumptuous set-piece, this time for his club side Manchester United, against Barcelona, in a thrilling 3-3 tie during the group phase of the Champions League. By now, Becks was making a difficult skill look so simple (goal at 47 seconds into this clip).
4. Man Utd 4-3 Real Madrid, April 23, 2003
A few months before Beckham was transferred to the Spanish giants Real Madrid, he almost single-handedly knocked them out of the 2003 Champions League. While Manchester United were eventually eliminated 6-5 on aggregate (the teams played twice, at each other’s stadiums), substitute Becks came off the bench and scored twice, including a free kick he reportedly considered as “my best free-kick ever in a Man United shirt.”
5. Marseille 1-2 Real Madrid, November 23, 2003
And wouldn’t you know it: Beckham’s first European goal for Real Madrid was a trademark free kick. Considering the set-piece ability of his Galácticos teammates, Becks didn’t take all the free kicks for Madrid. But when he did, it wasn’t a surprise if he scored.