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Michael Owen has "some resentment" for "childish" David Beckham for red card at 1998 World Cup

David Beckham

Michael Owen has criticised David Beckham for letting England down by getting sent off against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

The then-Manchester United (opens in new tab) midfielder was shown a red card for kicking out at Diego Simeone in England's last-16 tie.

The Three Lions held on with 10 men from the 47th minute onwards, only to lose 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

And in his new book, Michael Owen: Reboot – My Life, My Time, the former England striker says Beckham's petulance cost Glenn Hoddle's side their place at the tournament.

"First of all, let me pre-empt what follows by saying that what David did probably wasn’t a red card offence in the first place," Owen wrote, as quoted by the Daily Mirror (opens in new tab).

"While it was clearly pre-meditated, it was immature and petulant more than it was violent. But for me, that almost makes it worse. Had he stood up and just punched someone in the face, somehow the disappointment would have been easier to take.

"But because his flick-out was so childish, it also seemed so much more unnecessary. People will say it was just a mistake, but my feeling is that, if you want to win World Cups, you can’t afford to make mistakes. This is a tough world we’re living in. You’ve got to be bob-on with everything you do because the margins are tiny.

"Would we have beaten Argentina with 11 men? We’ll never know – but we were playing well enough with 10 at the time. Would we have gone on to beat Holland and then Brazil and so on? We’ll never know that either.

"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.

"Did he deserve the abuse he got from the press 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 was involved in a Twitter argument with Alan Shearer (opens in new tab) on Tuesday as the former England strikers clashed over Owen's time at Newcastle (opens in new tab).


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Greg Lea
Greg Lea

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).