David Beckham's free-kick against Greece is voted as England's best goal by fans
, captaining his country for the tenth time, scored the goal from a trademark free-kick against Greece that took Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England side through to the 2002 World Cup Finals in the Far East.
Late last year we asked fans via our official England Facebook page
to choose their favourite Three Lions strikes. Beckham’s all-important goal in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’ has been voted in at number one.
England’s campaign to qualify for the Finals had started disastrously with a home defeat to Germany, Dietmar Hamann’s free-kick beating David Seaman’s dive and proving to be enough to win the last official match at the old Wembley before it was closed for demolition.
But two wins in five days, which included a spectacular 5-1 success against the Germans in Munich, had put England into a good position going into the final qualifier with Greece.
They had to match the result that the Germans got in their home tie with Finland on the same day to secure their place in the Finals for the eleventh time in their history.
The unfancied Greeks played with skill and confidence from the start on a predictably tense afternoon and twice the Three Lions were indebted to Leeds ‘keeper Nigel Martyn for goal-saving blocks.
Then Charisteas silenced the home crowd with a 36th-minute opener before Teddy Sheringham glanced in Beckham’s free-kick within ten seconds of coming on as a substitute.
England were shocked by another Greek goal midway through the second half, Nikolaidis pouncing on a loose ball to fire past Martyn, and they remained on edge until Beckham stepped up to save the day with a fabulous free-kick from a central position that curled into the top left corner.
He was England’s hero of the hour and no player could have tried harder for his team. Germany could only draw with Finland, so we were through!
A relieved Eriksson said afterwards: “It was a great day for English football. Not necessarily in the way in which we played, because we have most certainly played better than we did today, but in the drama of the game.”
With Beckham’s leveller coming in the third minute of stoppage time, it could hardly have had a more dramatic finish.
So the top ten goals are…
1. David Beckham
v Greece (October 2001)
2. Paul Gascoigne
v Scotland (June 1996)
3. Michael Owen
v Argentina (June 1998)
4. Geoff Hurst’s third
v West Germany (July 1966)
5. Joe Cole
v Sweden (June 2006)
6. John Barnes
, v Brazil (June 1984)
7. David Platt
, v Belgium (June 1990)
8. Geoff Hurst's second
, v West Germany (July 1966)
9. Steven Gerrard
, v Germany (September 2001)
10. Danny Welbeck
, v Sweden (June 2012)
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