Football News

Michael Owen still resents how David Beckham let down England

By Ben Green

Published: 21:58, 4 September 2019

Former England striker Michael Owen admits he still holds a grudge against David Beckham after the former Three Lions captain infamously picked up a needless sending off in the 1998 World Cup.

With the scoreline level at 2-2 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard between England and Argentina in the last-16, referee Kim Milton Nielsen brandished a red card in Beckham’s direction after the ex-Man Utd star took a petulant swipe at Diego Simeone.

Beckham’s red card: Five things to know…

  • England reached the last-16 in the 1998 World Cup finals in France.
  • They played Argentina in Saint-Etienne and went into the break level at 2-2 after goals from Owen and Shearer.
  • In the 47th minute a forward pass to Beckham saw Simeone crash into the back of him and concede a foul.
  • However, as Simeone went to walk away Beckham kicked out at him, resulting in a red card, and Argentina went on to win the match on penalties.
  • Owen has argued that the card was soft but says he still holds “resentment” due to Beckham’s “immaturity”.

The current Atletico Madrid boss charged into the back of Beckham just after the restart, prompting the England midfielder to take a swipe at him. Arguably there wasn’t enough contact to bring down La Albiceleste’s skipper, but there was enough to sway Nielsen’s judgment.

Glenn Hoddle’s side were able to keep the scoreline level until the final whistle and through extra-time, but ultimately missed out on the chance of reaching the quarter-finals as the South American outfit triumphed 4-3 on penalties.

Two decades later and Owen, who started the match and scored England’s second of the game, has conceded he still nurses feelings of resentment towards his ex-Real Madrid colleague.

In his new book ‘Reboot’, which is currently being serialised by the Mirror, he wrote: “I’ll start by saying that David and I always got on well on a personal level. He was obviously a very talented player.

“I always admired him massively because I always felt that nobody, I repeat, nobody, worked harder than David to maximise the talent he did have.

“But after that World Cup in France, few would argue that his and my paths were different. I became the darling of English football for a period of time whereas he became the villain.

“The general feeling in the dressing room immediately after the match was that there was nothing to say about him getting sent off. What could any of us have said to him that would have changed anything? The damage was done.

“Whether I thought his actions lost us the game or not didn’t matter. For me, at that time, it was about hierarchy and standing. I was just a junior member of that squad. I was really just a kid.

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“Did he deserve the abuse he got afterwards? Certainly not. What human being needs to see his or her effigy being burned?

“But David let us down, and I still hold some resentment about it today.”

Owen: It wasn’t a red card

Owen’s comments come after a public spat with another of his former international teammates, Alan Shearer.

Despite revealing his “resentment” towards ‘Becks’, Owen did go on to say that the red card was soft, though he ultimately slammed his “immaturity” for lashing out in the first place.

He added: “But… sitting here now, with the benefit of hindsight and perspective, I feel that what David did probably wasn’t a red card offence in the first place.

“While it was clearly pre-meditated, it was immature and petulant more than it was violent. But for me, that almost makes it worse.

“All I can say is that, as I sit here now writing this book, knowing how lucky a player is to appear in one World Cup, never mind more than one, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that what David did that day hadn’t let every single one of that England team down.”

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