Beginning of an illustrious career for the 'not too flash' Beckham

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The Independent Online

When Glenn Hoddle called David Beckham into the England squad for the first time, in August 1996, he said the then-21-year-old was "a great talent, with an eye for goal", and "not too much flash about him".

Beckham was picked in part because Jamie Redknapp was injured and David Batty too doubtful to start, but it was a close call between the then Manchester United midfielder, Southampton's Matt Le Tissier and Aston Villa's Mark Draper. The latter never won a cap and Le Tissier earned only eight.

Beckham played inside Gary Neville on the right of a five-man-midfield in Hoddle's 3-5-2 formation. He began the move for Nick Barmby's opening goal and impressed in a 3-0 win. Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer scored the other goals. "He needed time to settle, then he influenced the game," said Hoddle of Beckham.

It was the opening match of a World Cup campaign that would end, two years later, with Beckham being vilified for being dismissed against Argentina.

Becks' debut

MOLDOVA 0-3 ENGLAND World Cup qualifier 1 Sept 1996

Seaman (Arsenal)

G Neville (Man Utd), Southgate (A Villa), Pallister (Man Utd), Pearce (N Forest), Hinchcliffe (Everton)

Beckham (Man Utd), Ince (Inter), Gascoigne (Rangers)

Barmby (Middlesbrough), Shearer (Newcastle)

Substitutes: Le Tissier (Southampton) for Barmby, 80; Batty (Newcastle) for Gascoigne, 80. Substitutes not used: Walker (Tottenham, gk), Campbell (Tottenham), Draper (A Villa), Stone (N Forest), Ferdinand (Newcastle).

Goals: Barmby (23) 0-1; Gascoigne (25) 0-2; Shearer (61) 0-3.