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Saturday, 8 June, 2002, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Beckham savours career high
David Beckham steps up to take the decisive penalty
Beckham was nervous as he stepped up to the spot

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England captain David Beckham said the winner he scored during England's 1-0 win over Argentina was the "most satisfying" moment of his career.

Beckham smashed home the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after 44 minutes.

The decision had been awarded by referee Pierluigi Collina after a foul on Michael Owen by Mauricio Pochettino.

"It is a fantastic feeling. This is probably the sweetest moment of my whole career," said Beckham.

"It is a victory for the whole nation. When you play one of the best teams in the world, to score the goal that wins the game is very special."

The victory also finally laid to rest the ghost of France '98.

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We were going through a tough time after the Sweden game
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David Beckham

Beckham returned home in shame after being sent off as England went out on penalties to Argentina four years ago, but his status as a national hero was confirmed by his penalty in the 1-0 win in the Sapporo Dome.

He also revealed how England's long-time World Cup enemies Argentina - led by Beckham's France 98 tormentor Diego Simeone - indulged in gamesmanship in a bid to wreck his concentration as he prepared to take the crucial spot-kick.

Beckham said: "It puts the ghosts of France 98 to rest once and for all.

"I have always said I have never been nervous, but I was definitely nervous getting ready to take that.

"I just ran up and hit it as hard as I can and hoped for the best."

And Beckham revealed: "There were a few antics going on before I took it.

"The goalkeeper was telling me where I was going to put the ball and Simeone tried to shake my hand.

Beckham shakes hands with Simeone, his tormentor in St Etienne
Beckham made a point of shaking Simeone's hand

"I didn't shake his hand then, but made sure I did at the end."

Beckham added: "When we got the penalty, Michael said 'are you going to take it or me?' but I wanted it badly.

"I may have scored the goal, but everyone in the team was fantastic.

"Nicky Butt came in and he was superb. He kept things going in midfield and put some great balls through."

Beckham, however, refuses to write Argentina off, despite having landed the psychological blow of defeating one of the competition favourites.

He said: "They are still one of the best teams in the world with the best players.

"We are now quietly confident going into the Nigeria game. But we are not through yet and we don't want to waste our good work.

"We were going through a tough time after the Sweden game because things were being said about us and we were not happy with ourselves.

"But the manager got us believing in ourselves and we showed that against Argentina."


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England's Michael Owen
"We can play better again"
England captain David Beckham:
"It feels better than four years ago"
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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1




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