Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Mr October Can Lead Sven to Summer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Mr October Can Lead Sven to Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

IN America, everyone knows who Mr October is. This is the name they gave Reggie Jackson, one of the greatest of baseball sluggers, thanks to his heroics, year in year out, during one particular month of the year.

Jackson always dripped with star quality but five times when the World Series came around in the fall, he would somehow raise his game to an even more stellar level, prompting George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, to bestow him with the fabled moniker.

So let's hear it for English football's equivalent to Reggie.

There are so many ups and downs in David Beckham's international career you feel travel sick just trawling back through them. Yet, oddly, the one constant thread which runs through this uneven ride is that he so often seems to show off his very best for his country in vital games each October.

Put another way, Beckham's finest moments in an England shirt, apart from his coming-of-age free-kick against Colombia in the 1998 World Cup and his 'penalty of redemption' against Argentina in Sapporo four years later, have invariably come at this time of year when championship qualification has been at stake.

Indeed, if you were to be brutal about his international career, you'd say Beckham is the man whose golden touch always secures him the invite to the big summer party only for him to mooch around in the kitchen once he gets there.

Tomorrow against Austria and next Wednesday against Poland, though, hopefully he'll be in his element again, back at Old Trafford where he enjoys reminding old worshippers what they're missing.

It was four Octobers ago that he played his game of games there against Greece to drag England to Japan yet only this time last year, he was at it again, scoring that sensational 25-yard dipper which knocked the stuffing out of Wales.

That day ultimately turned out to be more memorable for Beckham's subsequent admission that, after suffering a fractured rib, he'd deliberately got himself booked to earn a suspension because he knew he wouldn't be fit to play Azerbaijan four days later. …

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