It didn’t take David Beckham long to show the world he was a master of the long-range shot. On the opening day of the 1996/97 Premier League, the then little-known Manchester United youngster noticed Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan eight yards off his line and duly lobbed him with a sensational strike from inside his own half.
Goals from distance become a speciality of a man who would go on to become of one of the most-well known sportsmen on the planet. So, when Los Angeles Galaxy travelled to Australia for a friendly against Sydney FC in November 2007, organisers decided to set up a couple of challenges for Beckham on Sydney Harbour.
First, the England midfielder comfortably kicked a football from one pontoon to another which had been set up way away 70 yards away. Then, the former Real Madrid player curled a free-kick into the top corner of a goal – naturally, no second attempt was required! Finally, with rugby league star Mark Gasnier and rugby union ace Matt Giteau looking on, Beckham made a rugby conversion with an oval-shaped ball!
It was back to business for Beckham the following day, when over 80,000 turned up to watch the Sky Blues host the Galaxy – or, for a majority, simply to see ‘Golden Balls’. And Beckham didn’t disappoint, scoring a fabulous free-kick which prompted everybody inside Telstra Stadium to give him a standing ovation.
The Galaxy may have exited Sydney having lost 5-3, but their No23 went home having gained countless new fans.