'David let us down': Michael Owen admits to Beckham resentment

Dimitri Kondonis
·3-min read
England's David Beckham (L) is given the red card by Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen, after a foul on Argentina's Diego Simeone during their France '98 World Cup second round match held in St Etienne. argentina won the match 4-3 on penalties (2-2 after extra time).   (Photo by Adam Butler - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
David Beckham's 1998 World Cup red card was 'petulant' according to Owen (Credit: Getty Images)

Less than 24 hours after becoming embroiled in a Twitter spat with Alan Shearer, the latest extract from Michael Owen’s book has seen the former England striker take aim at David Beckham.

Owen admits he still resents Beckham for his ‘immature and petulant’ red card during England’s defeat to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

Beckham was handed his marching orders for kicking out at Diego Simeone in a match his team-mates would go on to lose on penalties, leading to vitriolic abuse of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder.

Some 21 years later, Owen has hit out at Beckham’s role in the incident - the latest in a string of attacks made in his new book Reboot – My Life, My Time.

The book is being serialised in The Mirror, with Tuesday’s offering accusing Shearer of failing as manager of Newcastle United - a club Owen claimed he regretted ever signing for.

“David let us down, and I still hold some resentment about it today,” read a section of the book published Wednesday.

30 June 1998 - World Cup round of sixteen - Argentina v England, David Beckham aims a kick at Diego Simeone. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)
Beckham kicked out at Simeone before being sent off. (Credit: Getty Images)

“Sitting here now, with the benefit of hindsight and perspective, I feel that what David did probably wasn’t a red card offence in the first place.

“While it was clearly pre-meditated, it was immature and petulant more than it was violent. But for me, that almost makes it worse.

“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 afterwards? Certainly not. What human being needs to see his or her effigy being burned?”

Owen added that he also learned Beckham’s wife Victoria was disappointed in him for not publicly defending his fellow young star.

LONDON - NOVEMBER 14:  (L-R) Michael Owen and and David Beckham warm up during an England training session at London Colney Training Ground on November 14, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Owen has insisted he still resents Beckham for the red card offence. (Credit: Getty Images)

The 39-year-old said: “Some time later, I got wind that Victoria was in some way disappointed in me.

“She felt, I was told, that while all the limelight was on me after the World Cup, I should have publicly and voluntarily come out and backed David.

“I didn’t consider myself senior enough to pat David Beckham – twenty times more famous than I was at the time – on the back and say: ‘Keep your chin up, mate,’ either.

“Whether I thought his actions lost us the game or not didn’t matter. For me, at that time, it was about hierarchy and standing. I was just a junior member of that squad. I was really just a kid.”

The quotes surfaced while attention was still focused on Owen’s row with Shearer.

Owen accused the Newcastle icon of disloyalty and wanting to move away from the club, after Shearer hit out at Owen’s poor four years on Tyneside.

Featured from our writers