After being sent off in the 1998 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals against Argentina, David Beckham was back as the center of attention when the two teams met on this day in soccer history at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The midfielder stepped up to score the game’s lone goal from the penalty spot.

The penalty was set up by Michael Owen when he was fouled in the waning moments of the first half.  The forward was eager to get his chance to take the penalty but it was the captain that called his own number.

“When we got the penalty, Michael said ‘are you going to take it or me?’ but I wanted it badly. I may have scored the goal, but everyone in the team was fantastic.”

Argentina entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win the FIFA World Cup but were drawn into Group F, the group of death, along with England, Sweden and Nigeria.

“It puts the ghosts of France 98 to rest once and for all. I have always said I have never been nervous, but I was definitely nervous getting ready to take that. I just ran up and hit it as hard as I can and hoped for the best.

“There were a few antics going on before I took it. The goalkeeper was telling me where I was going to put the ball and Simeone tried to shake my hand. I didn’t shake his hand then, but made sure I did at the end.”

Sweden was in action that day as well defeating Nigeria 2-1 on the back of a brace from Henry Larsson.  Sweden and England went on to advance from the group, losing in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals respectively.

Soccer Birthdays

1965 – Jean-Pierre François, French footballer and singer
1970 – Cafu, Brazilian footballer
1977 – Marcin Baszczyński, Polish footballer
1979 – Kevin Hofland, Dutch footballer
1981 – Stephen Bywater, British footballer
1985 – Simon Whaley, English footballer
1987 – Danny Szetela – U.S. National team soccer player