Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Becks Steals the Show Once Again

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Becks Steals the Show Once Again

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Bradley

As the identity of the England man-of-the-match against Croatia was announced, the fervent applause began from the moment that the name "David" passed through the stadium announcer's lips.

That it was then followed by "James" and not "Beckham", however, caused a ripple of bemusement to filter around Portman Road.

The West Ham keeper had, indeed, rescued his side on at least three occasions with top-class saves that went a long way to ending any argument over England's current first-choice keeper.

However, the player who had brought England to life, yet again, on a night when their defensive problems had once more been exposed, had been the other David. The one with the ponytail.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have deemed the midfielder surplus to requirements at Old Trafford but Sven-Goran Eriksson protectively cherishes him with understandable pride.

As far as England are concerned, Beckham is still very much the chief inspiration and motivational figure. The Real deal, you could say.

He may not have produced a perfect display at Portman Road. Then again, in an uncertain first-half display, only James and, perhaps, Phil Neville had really done themselves any true justice.

However, the England captain not only leads by example but manages to rise to the occasion exactly when it matters most.

After defender Josip Simunic had needlessly raised his arm to connect with Beckham's deep cross after just nine minutes, Real Madrid's new recruit calmly slotted the penalty inside the far post.

While England only narrowly survived a series of ripostes by Croatia, Beckham then steadied nerves five minutes after the interval by delivering an inch-perfect cross for Michael Owen to head home. Eriksson declared: "One goal, one assist and his delivery as always was world-class. I think that is why Real Madrid wanted him.

"It is good to see him back in England and, as usual, he is very proud to play for and captain his country. …

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