Why I Kicked A Boot At David Beckham To Injure Him? – Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson booted a football boot across the changing room and landed it right over David Beckham’s eye 18 years ago, as the great Manchester United manager explained the events leading up to that conclusion.
On February 15th, 2003, United played close rivals Arsenal in an FA Cup fifth-round tie. Before the Gunners triumphed 2-0, Ryan Giggs missed an open goal early in the game, somehow firing over the bar.
The game was changed on Giggs’ miss, with Edu scoring two minutes later, but Beckham received the brunt of the criticism.
Becks, who would depart Old Trafford the following summer, was left with plaster over sutures above his left eye after the game.
The odd occurrence that wounded ‘Goldenballs’ happened in the dressing room right after the game, and Fergie detailed how it happened in his memoirs, according to the Independent.
“In his final season with us, we were aware that David’s work rate was dropping and we had heard rumours of a flirtation between Real Madrid and David’s camp, “Fergie wrote.
“The main issue was that his application-level had dropped from its traditionally stratospheric level.“He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him, and as I approached I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye. Of course, he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him.‘Sit down,’ I said. ‘You’ve let your team down. You can argue as much as you like.'”
Because the injury was so noticeable and occurred to the world’s most famous player, rumours of a brawl were rampant in the media at the time.
“The next day the story was in the press,” Fergie added, “In public, an Alice band highlighted the damage inflicted by the boot. It was in those days that I told the board David had to go.“My message would have been familiar to board members who knew me. The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go. I used to say, ‘The moment the manager loses his authority, you don’t have a club. The players will be running it, and then you’re in trouble.'”
‘He lost the chance to become an absolute top-dog player,’ assessed Ferguson. ‘He wanted to give it all up for a new career, a new lifestyle, for stardom. He fell in love with Victoria and that changed everything.’
In terms of football, history implies that the manager is correct. Beckham left United for Real Madrid when he was only 28 years old, but he was never the same player after that.
His promotional success continued – a century of England caps, founding the Major League Soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy, periods with AC Milan and PSG – but he was never again referred to as world-class. For the 2006 World Cup, his great chance at international success came and went, and Sven-Goran Erikssen was accused of rewarding his captain with a spot in the team.
The connection between Ferguson and Beckham could not be mended, according to Ryan Giggs, who spent his whole career with United.
‘It was getting too much, arguing every other week and it was just time for both parties to move,’ he said.
On a football level, Beckham admired Fergie, who believed in youth and proved that it was possible to win with them.
However, Becks, whose work ethic was unrivalled on the football field, would be putting himself to the test in terms of the Old Trafford culture, where Ferguson’s authority was absolute.
‘I once flew over to Ireland on a day off because Victoria was there. I didn’t feel I needed to tell the manager what I was doing,’ recalls Beckham.
‘He didn’t talk to me when I came back. I knew I was in a little bit of trouble.’
Ferguson’s motivation, according to today’s Beckham, was to keep his players as fit and fresh as possible for match days. However, international talents such as Sergio Aguero can now travel abroad on their days off without repercussions from their clubs, who are likely wary of provoking their star assets.
When Beckham married, Stephens was left to ask if the couple might extend their honeymoon by two days beyond the week they had planned. To make the request, Stephens went above Ferguson’s head to chairman Martin Edwards, a red rag to Ferguson, who thought commercial power was threatening to undermine his own leadership in the dressing room.
Ferguson was born and raised in Glasgow, where football was a way of life. He couldn’t understand why a player with Beckham’s talent would jeopardize his career because he’d fallen in love with a pop star and wanted to be a celebrity more than winning trophies, and he couldn’t understand why a player with Beckham’s talent would jeopardize his career because he’d fallen in love with a pop star and wanted to be a celebrity more than winning trophies.
When the flying boot incident made news, the manager saw an opportunity.
After days in which the story had been dominated by Beckham represented in an Alice band denoting the wound, Ferguson broke his silence in a press conference the day before a Champions League match against Juventus.
Beckham’s celebrity at the time was difficult to overstate. Stephens and his SFX firm had arranged sponsorship deals worth £17 million for him, including £4 million from Adidas alone — huge sums at the time.
Throughout the season, there was more animosity when Becks was benched on multiple occasions, including for the Champions League encounter against Real Madrid, where Ronaldo received a standing ovation.
Real Madrid bought the England international for €37 million in the summer, becoming him the latest Galactico to join Los Blancos.
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