David Beckham: Highs and lows

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The curtain is about to be brought down on David Beckham's glittering international career. But not just yet.

The 37-year-old global icon will crown a sensational spell at international level by spearheading the Great Britain team at this summer's Olympics.

And as news filters through of Beckham's inclusion, GMF takes a look back at the highs and lows of the former England captain's international career.

The Highs

1. Beckham makes his England bow

Beckham made his international debut against Moldova in a World Cup qualifier as a 21-year-old back in 1996.

England ran out 3-0 winners that day, in a game that marked Glenn Hoddle's first game at the helm of the national side.

As Beckham made his England bow on 1st September, nobody could have imagined he would go on to enjoy such a decorated and eventful international career.

2. Beckham named England captain

In the year 2000, Peter Taylor was appointed England manager on an interim basis. One of his first acts was to name a new captain - step forward David Beckham. Upon being named captain of his country, the Manchester United midfielder completed a remarkable two-year turnaround having gone from being portrayed as a national villain in the media, to an English icon.

Although England were beaten by Italy thanks to a solitary strike from Gennaro Gattuso, the game marked the beginning of a long and distinguished reign for Beckham with the armband festooned on his bicep. He went on to captain his country on 59 occasions in total, before relinquishing the role postWorld Cup 2006.

3. Free-kick Vs Greece

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Following a dismal qualifying campaign which saw England flirt with failure to make the World Cup finals, England needed a positive result against Greece in the final game of the qualification process.

With England trailing 2-1 in injury-time and Sven Goran Eriksson's side heading for the playoffs, Beckham single-handedly hauled his country into the finals, scoring a sublime free-kick in the most dramatic of fashions, providing England with an ending that even the most creative storytellers would have a hard time comprehending.

That point ensured England made it through to the World Cup finals, and the nation was eternally grateful to their skipper and hero, David Beckham.

4. Penalty Vs Argentina - World Cup 2002

Having secured England's qualification with the last kick of their qualifying campaign, Beckham travelled to the tournament in the far-east with an injury that threatened to curtail his involvement.

But captain Beckham battled through the pain barrier to convert from the spot in England's second group game against arch rivals Argentina.

Not only did that goal condemn the Argies to a 1-0 defeat, but their disappointment was enhanced further as Argentina faced the indignity of making an early exit from the competition.

5. 100 not out

Beckham was awarded his 100th international cap for England on March 27th 2008, but celebrations were tempered as his side were beaten 1-0 by France.

The LA Galaxy star played just over 60 minutes of the tie in Paris before being replaced by substitute David Bentley.

He was given a standing ovation as he came off the pitch, and was watched on by his family including wife Victoria.

Beckham went on to surpass Bobby Moore's all-time cap record for an outfield player, featuring on no fewer than 115 occasions for his international side.

The Lows

1. Beckham sees red as England suffer

World Cup 98, England Vs Argentina. It doesn't get much bigger than that. All the players needed to do was keep their heads. Cue an act of petulance from Beckham when it was least needed.

Beckham showed his inexperience as he retaliated to a run-in with Diego Simeone after the combative midfielder goaded his opponent.

And England's loss was Argentina's gain. Although the match finished level after extra-time, the English lived up to their reputation and were beaten on penalties.

Back home, the pressure on Beckham was intense, as he was heavily criticised for his lack of discipline and was made out to be a scapegoat for England's failure.

2. Spot-kick agony for Beckham and England

In a match against France in Group B of Euro 2004, it was all going so well for England.

1-0 up thanks to a Frank Lampard header (assisted by Beckham), England looked set to defeat the French to give themselves the best possible chance of progressing into the latter stages.

However, Zinedine Zidane had other ideas. Arguably the world's greatest player, Zidane proved why such superlatives were being thrown his way.

The French playmaker scored a majestic free-kick before converting from the spot to gift the French a crucial win in the Group B opener.

The result was hard to take for the English, particularly as they had the opportunity to extend their lead from the spot when winning 1-0. But Beckham saw his spot-kick saved by French shot-stopper, Fabien Barthez.

3. More penalty heartache for England's skipper

Euro 2004 saw an epic encounter between Portugal and England in the quarter-finals of the competition. With the game tied at 2-2, once again a clash involving England went to penalties.

David Beckham, the man who England can always count on, stepped forward to take the first spot-kick. Much to his and the country's dismay, he blazed over and England subsequently went on to lose to the host nation Portugal, who won 6-5 in the shoot-out.

4. Beckham stands down

On 2nd July 2006, David Beckham relinquished his role as captain of England.

Following the country's exit from World Cup 2006, Beckham struggled to hold back the tears in an emotional statement at a press conference near England's training headquarters near Baden-Baden in Germany.

He said he had "lived the dream", but with a new manager soon to take to the helm, Beckham felt the time had come to step down.

5. Capello calls time on Beckham's international career

On 11th August 2010, Fabio Capello called time on David Beckham's international career.

Although Beckham continued to make himself available to his country, Capello felt it was the right time to look to the future, with players such as Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott favoured ahead of the global icon.

In what seemed like a low-key end to such a high-profile career, the manner of the announcement was in-keeping with Capello's straightforward management style.

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