How Beckham banished the ghosts of '98 – and saved my birthday

David Beckham Argentina 2002

Chest pounding. Sweat dripping from his brow. Diego Simeone right up in his grill. Ball nestled on the penalty spot. Half-time seconds away. David Beckham stands roughly six strides and a ball strike away from redemption... or ruining my birthday.

It was a long journey to that evening in the Sapporo Dome in Japan. It started roughly a year earlier when I entered FIFA’s ticket ballot for the boringly named “team specific tickets” or “TST” as they are abbreviated throughout the arduous application process. Thing is, you had to enter the ballot long before your team’s qualification was confirmed. Part two of the journey was England vs Greece at Old Trafford.

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