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  Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 22:17 GMT
Beckham's triumphant year
David Beckham has enjoyed a memorable 12 months
Beckham has flown the flag for England in 2001
BBC Sport Online reports on David Beckham's remarkable 12 months as he is named Sports Personality of the Year.

David Beckham had a stunning 2001 that saw him elevated from fine footballer to world-class player and English icon.

At the turn of the year, the 26-year-old was already a respected figure in European football.

Twelve months later, he had become the saviour of a nation after his injury-time free-kick against Greece sent England to the 2002 World Cup finals.

But if that was the highlight of his year, it was not the only memorable moment.

Beckham was an integral part of the Manchester United side that clinched its seventh Premiership in nine years by winning the 2000/2001 title.

  Beckham's year
27 February: Confirmed as England captain for Sven-Goran Eriksson's first international
24 March: Scores winner against Finland in World Cup qualifier
14 April: Manchester United wrap up the Premiership title
1 September: Captains England to historic 5-1 win in Germany
6 October: Scores last-minute winner against Greece to put England in World Cup finals
9 December: Named Sports Personality of the Year

Patrolling the right side of midfield, his laser-guided crosses and free-kicks continued to torment teams throughout England and Europe.

However, when he was appointed England captain by new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, even Becks admitted that he was not a natural leader.

By the end of the World Cup qualifiers, anyone who doubted that he could lead his country were forced to eat their words.

Influential in the two ties that England won at the end of last season, he lifted his game to another level during the three matches that sent England to Korea and Japan.

He played a major part as England routed Germany 5-1 in the Olympic Stadium in Munich, and then produced two dazzling displays as England stumbled over the final two hurdles.

In the Albania match, he was magnificent as England struggled to a 2-0 victory.

Memorable performance

And against Greece he produced one of the most memorable displays ever seen in an England shirt.

As the rest of the side battled their nerves, Beckham was superb.

Covering every blade of grass, he ran his heart out trying to lift the men around him.

And, just when it looked as though England would need a play-off to reach the finals, he produced a sensational goal.

When England were awarded a free-kick more than 30 yards out, trailing Greece 2-1 deep into injury time, Teddy Sheringham offered to have a go.

The England captain waved him away and then sent a viciously swerving shot past the startled Greek keeper.

It sent England to next summer's finals, and forever sealed Beckham's place as one of the nation's sporting heroes.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
England captain David Beckham
"Getting this award has topped a great year"

Beckham honour

The 2001 show

Winners profiled

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