Michael Owen has slammed David Beckham for ‘letting every England player down’ by getting sent off against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup and says he still resents him for it.
The former Manchester United star received his marching orders early in the second half of last-16 tie with the game finely poised at 2-2 for a silly kick on Diego Simeone.
In his upcoming book ‘Reboot’, which is being serialised by The Mirror, Owen was cut-throat in his assessment of Beckham’s actions that day in Saint-Etienne.
David Beckham receives red for kicking out at Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup
Michael Owen said Beckham let the whole team down that day and he still resents him for it
‘First of all, let me pre-empt what follows by saying that what David did probably wasn’t a red card offence in the first place,’ Owen said.
Argentina (3-3-2-2): Roa, Ayala, Chamot, Vivas, Almeyda, Zanetti, Simeone (Berti 92), Veron, Ortega, Batistuta (Crespo 68), Lopez (Gallardo 68)
Scorers: Batistuta (6), Zanetti (45)
Booked: Veron, Simeone, Almeyda, Roa
England (3-4-1-2): Seaman, Neville, Campbell, Adams, Le Saux (Southgate 71), Ince, Scholes (Merson 78), Beckham, Anderton (Batty 97), Shearer, Owen
Scorers: Shearer (10), Owen (16)
Booked: Seaman, Ince
Sent off: Beckham (47)
Argentina – Sergio Berti, scores (1-0)
England – Alan Shearer, scores (1-1)
Argentina – Hernan Crespo, saved (1-1)
England – Paul Ince, saved (1-1)
Argentina – Juan Sebastian Veron, scores (2-1)
England – Paul Merson, scores (2-2)
Argentina – Marcello Gallardo, scores (3-2)
England – Michael Owen, scores (3-3)
Argentina – Roberto Ayala, scores (4-3)
England – David Batty, saved (4-3)
‘But because his flick-out was so childish, it also seemed so much more unnecessary. People will say it was just a mistake, but my feeling is that, if you want to win World Cups, you can’t afford to make mistakes.
‘Would we have beaten Argentina with eleven men? We’ll never know – but we were playing well enough with ten at the time. Would we have gone on to beat Holland and then Brazil and so on? We’ll never know that either.
‘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 from the press 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.’
Alan Shearer’s penalty had cancelled out Gabriel Batistuta’s early strike from the spot before Owen raced past Argentina’s defence to score that iconic goal to put England ahead.
Javier Zanetti equalised just before England could get into the sanctuary of the dressing room at half-time.
Two minutes after the break, Beckham showed his immaturity by reacting angrily to a poor challenge from Simeone.
Owen had scored a wonder goal to put England 2-1 up earlier in the game against Argentina
Carlos Roa saved David Batty’s spot kick in the shootout to secure victory for Argentina
England held out for 120 minutes at 2-2 but it was penalties that cost them a place in the last eight with Argentina winning 4-3.
Beckham, who was one of the finest purveyors of a dead ball at the tournament, would have been among the five to address England’s penalties had he not been sent off.
Owen’s book has raised eyebrows with the first serialisation of it provoking a social media spat with Alan Shearer, with the pair trading barbed insults amid a long-running feud over their time at Newcastle.
Owen, in his new autobiography, revealed that he did not want to sign for the Magpies in 2005 and said Shearer’s record as manager was ‘dire’ as they were relegated in 2009.
Shearer hit back on social media on Tuesday when posting a clip in which Owen admitted to hating the last seven years of his career and said he could not wait to retire.
Alan Shearer (left) and Michael Owen (right) had been close friends and team-mates
Owen re-lit the fuse on their feud this week, and it didn’t take long for Shearer to hit back
In a fiery Twitter spat, Owen then claimed that Shearer isn’t loyal to his beloved Newcastle
The Newcastle legend commented: ‘Yes Michael, we thought that also, whilst on £120k per week…’
But Owen responded by questioning Shearer’s own loyalty to the club.
‘Not sure you are as loyal to Newcastle as you make out mate,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘I distinctly remember you being inches away from signing for Liverpool after Sir Bobby Robson put you on the bench. You tried everything to get out.’
Referring to the clip Shearer had posted of him, Owen added in a post to Gary Lineker: ‘Are you surprised he’s manipulated a tiny part of an honest answer to aim a cheap dig at me? Most ex-players I’ve spoken to aren’t.’
The tension between Owen and Shearer dates back to the final months of Owen’s time at Newcastle when Shearer was boss and Paul Ferris was on the coaching staff. Ferris claimed in his book last year that Owen did not want to risk injury towards the end of the season because he was out of contract that summer.
Owen wrote: ‘Sadly, this feud has continued to the present day. The more I think about it, the more I understand why Alan behaves the way he does and continues to spread negativity about me whenever he can.
‘To put it simply, there has been a lot of lies, bull**** and general misinformation surrounding the end of my time at Newcastle.
‘I told him (Shearer) I wasn’t fully fit but was prepared to play. As I left his office that day, he made an insinuation that led me to believe he thought I had half an eye on my next contract. I’m not stupid — we both knew I was out of contract in a few weeks. It wasn’t until three months later that I discovered Alan Shearer was apparently seething with me.
Shearer was apparently secretly furious with Owen, and the latter would only find out later
‘Not only that, it transpired that he was telling anyone who’d listen what he thought of me.’
And Owen was scathing of Shearer the manager.
‘He was brought in at St James’ Park as the saviour, the local boy,’ he said. ‘It could have been a great story. But he failed. Newcastle United were relegated.
‘Perhaps rather than examine his own shortcomings, it felt easier to blame Michael Owen. When you analyse it, it all makes sense.
‘Shearer’s record as manager in the last eight games of that 2008-2009 season was dire: lost 5, drew 2, won 1. These are hardly God-like stats.’
Shearer reacted to Owen’s comments about hating his time at Newcastle last year as their row ignited.
Owen’s book ‘Michael Owen: Reboot – My Life, My Time’ is released on Thursday
Shearer tweeted then: ‘Not sure NUFC fans, team-mates or employers will want to thank him (for his comments).’
They then exchanged text messages but Owen later said: ‘It went, as I suspected, precisely nowhere.’
Shearer played a part in persuading Owen to sign for Newcastle from Real Madrid in a £16.5million club-record deal and they were close friends, even living together at one point.
But Owen, in Reboot — My Life, My Time, said: ‘I should have followed my gut instincts, I didn’t want to go there — my heart was set on a return to Liverpool.
‘Newcastle is only a big club in the sense that it has a lot of fans and a big stadium.’
Owen looked deflated after the final whistle had consigned Newcastle to the Championship