In addition to its long-standing reputation as one of English football’s premier cup competitions, the League Cup’s record of showcasing the talents of football’s brightest young things has increasingly become its trademark. As we look forward to the next round of this year’s Capital One Cup, FootballFanCast is taking a look at just some of the famous faces to have cut their teeth in the competition.
This Thursday, David Beckham’s LA Galaxy will line up at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps, and one of the shining lights of the MLS is more than likely to be involved. Beckham of course, isn’t getting any younger, though. It’s over 20 years since Beckham first appeared in a professional football match for his first club, Manchester United – a League Cup second round away fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Beckham came off the bench that night, making a limited impression as Brighton held his United side to a 1-1 draw ahead of an eventual Red Devils win in the second leg. But for Beckham, who had already won the 1992 FA Youth Cup with cohorts Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, it was the beginning of one of the most glittering careers of a generation.
Once he became established as a first team regular from the 1995-6 season (and that goal against Wimbledon and Neil Sullivan), Beckham would be an infrequent feature of United’s League Cup campaigns. He didn’t feature in his tenth League Cup game until his final season with the club, in the 2002-3 campaign, when he also scored his first goal in the competition.
Beckham might never have won the League Cup as a Manchester United player, but following his debut he went on to win every other prize there was with the club – six Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, four Community Shields, a Champions’ League and an Intercontinental Cup. Of course, for Beckham, the man made globally famous by his varying exploits in two World Cups and as the centrepiece of a golden age for Manchester United, there was much more to come.
Beckham’s time since – over 100 appearances for England, four years as a Galactico with Real Madrid, one of the biggest contracts in the history of football with LA Galaxy and a couple of loan spells with AC Milan – has confirmed his legacy. He will be one of the most remembered and admired players of the turn-of-the-century generation, and should pass 700 club appearances by the end of the Galaxy’s season. Whether it’s the free kick against Greece in 2001, the corners against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp in 1999, or the arrival in America in 2007, many of Beckham’s crowning moments have been seen by global audiences.
Everyone has to start somewhere, of course. It was two years before Beckham made a second appearance for Manchester United following his League Cup debut, via a loan period at Preston North End, but that first taste of the big stage, combined with his previous exploits at youth level, set the young David Beckham on the way to stardom.