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  Monday, 10 December, 2001, 08:23 GMT
Beckham's joy at BBC award
David Beckham at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show
Beckham thanked the nation for voting for him
By BBC Sport Online's Lewis Wiltshire

David Beckham has told BBC Sport Online that he never expected to become so popular with the nation during the dark days of 1998.

The England captain was voted Sports Personality of the Year by BBC viewers on Sunday - capping a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes.

  Award winners
Sports Personality: David Beckham
Lifetime Achievement: Sir Alex Ferguson
Coach of the Year: Sven-Goran Eriksson
Team of the Year: Liverpool FC
Young Personality: Amy Spencer
Helen Rollason Award: Ellen MacArthur
Overseas Personality: Goran Ivanisevic
Three-and-a-half years earlier, Beckham was public enemy number one after his red card in a World Cup game against Argentina.

Asked by BBC Sport Online if he thought during that time he would ever receive such an accolade, the Manchester United star said: "At that point in time, no."

Beckham went on: "And probably in the six months after that, I didn't expect it to turn around like it has.

"This award was voted for by fans and people in the country who watch the England and Man United teams play. That is who I thank for this award. It is amazing."

Beckham has won Premiership titles and the Champions League, among other medals, during his career.

But he said the tension of waiting to discover whether he was BBC Sports Personality of the Year gave him a headache.

"There was a lot of coverage in the papers about me winning it or not winning it but you don't find out until the last words are said.


We've made it an uphill task for ourselves, a very uphill task
Beckham on Man Utd's title chances
"It is pretty nerve-racking but I've enjoyed the whole night. I've got a little bit of a headache, that's how nerve-racking it was, but I've enjoyed the whole night."

Beckham's year with England included the 5-1 demolition of Germany and the 2-2 draw with Greece when he scored the crucial late free-kick which guaranteed World Cup qualification.

Of those moments, the skipper said Greece was the best.

"I've got to say the draw against Greece for me, I'm sure if you talk to Michael (Owen) it will be the 5-1," he said.

"It was a dream come true for me, to score the goal that takes your country through to the World Cup finals, and also to be captain and be at a club you've supported your whole life."

Beckham's Old Trafford manager Sir Alex Ferguson - also honoured on the night with a lifetime achievement award - has publicly given up on the Premiership title.

But despite United's poor form, Beckham does not agree with his boss.

David Beckham with Sir Alex Ferguson at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show
Beckham thanked Ferguson after winning
"Of course not," he said when asked if he had conceded the domestic crown.

"As players we've got to believe we can still be in with a chance.

" We'll have to wait and see. We've made it an uphill task for ourselves, a very uphill task.

"But this team will come together and stay together as a team."

Did he know why things had gone wrong in the league?

"I really don't know, I really can't put my finger on it, it's just one of those things," he said, although he did rule out the uncertainty over Ferguson's successor being a factor.

Beckham paid tribute to Ferguson after being presented with his award on stage.

And he refused afterwards to criticise the Old Trafford chief for leaving him on the bench the previous day for the match against West Ham.

Respect

"All players need a rest or are left on the bench for many reasons," he said.

"It has been well documented this week. I want to play every game but that's not possible and when the manager decides to leave you on the bench then you respect that.

"I'm not going to question the manager for whatever he does. It's his decision and I do respect that.

"It's going to be an interesting year this year, being his last year, and it's going to be very interesting as to who is going to take over his role next year."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sports Personality David Beckham
"It has been a tremendous year"

Beckham honour

The 2001 show

Winners profiled

Have your say

THE NIGHT IN PICTURES

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Links to more Sports Personality stories are at the foot of the page.


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