David Beckham was feeling nauseous. England’s offense was just as sickly, with nothing to show for an hour of aimless passing against Ecuador in the 90-degree heat.
Then Beckham’s right foot lived up to its fame, squeezing England into the World Cup quarterfinals.
Beckham curled a trademark 25-yard free kick just inside the post in the 60th minute Sunday, his first goal for England in nearly 15 months – and the lone highlight in an otherwise ugly 1-0 victory over Ecuador.
A few minutes later, he vomited on the field because of dehydration, and left the match in the 87th minute.
“The last two days I’ve been struggling, even in training,” Beckham said.
Then he recounted what teammate Wayne Rooney had told him to give him a lift: “Wazza said to me before the game, ‘You’ve been terrible the last two days, so you’re going to get one tonight.”‘
Seeking its first World Cup title since 1966, England next plays Saturday against Portugal, which beat the Netherlands 1-0, but will have two starters – Deco and Costinha – suspended for the match.
While he is soccer’s best-known player, he is far from the best, a 31-year-old midfielder criticized for his lack of defense and inability to score from the run of play.
But his status as a cultural icon has grown in his decade with England, especially since his marriage to pop star Victoria Adams, formerly known as Posh Spice. He has opened a soccer academy in California, and he is considering ending his career in the U.S. with Major League Soccer.
His goal ended a 13-match scoreless streak dating to a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on March 30, 2005.
For England, the wait was worth it. MORE