Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has taken a swipe at Manchester United legend and former England winger David Beckham following his red card against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Beckham was sent off for retaliating on a foul by Diego Simeone as Argentina knocked England out of the World Cup in the quarterfinal stage and Owen, who scored in that match, has now reacted to it, 21 years after.
Writing in his book, My Life, My Time, with excerpts culled from the Mirror, Owen blamed Beckham for England’s defeat, saying the former Manchester United star let the team down.
“The fallout from David Beckham’s infamous red card against Argentina was still being felt some years later,” he began.
“I’ll start by saying that David and I always got on well on a personal level. He was obviously a very talented player.
“I always admired him massively because I always felt that nobody, I repeat, nobody, worked harder than David to maximise the talent he did have.
“But after that World Cup in France, few would argue that his and my paths were different. I became the darling of English football for a period of time whereas he became the villain.
“The general feeling in the dressing room immediately after the match was that there was nothing to say about him getting sent off. What could any of us have said to him that would have changed anything? The damage was done.
“However, sometime 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.
“But… 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?
“But David let us down, and I still hold some resentment about it today.”