Beckham sees Sullivan off his line (1996/97)


Charlie Adam and Wayne Rooney have scored from similar distance since, but neither come close to David Beckham’s halfway-line strike at Selhurst Park more than 20 years ago.

The daring imagination, the perfect pitching-wedge technique, the sweet thud as he connected with the ball and the feint ripple when it hit the net. It is perhaps the most beautiful goal the Premier League has ever seen.

Watching it today is like sitting down for an old episode of Seinfeld - the haircuts and clothes belong to another time, but the things that make it great will never age.

It was the nonchalant celebration as much as the strike itself which transformed the then-21-year-old, who was already a league and FA Cup winner, into a superstar.

So much so that when Eric Cantona retired less than a year later, Beckham was handed Manchester United’s iconic No. 7 shirt.

... And begins his post-World Cup rehabilitation (1998/99)


Becoming a personal brand is not easy, though, especially when you’re the UK’s most-hated figure.

The contempt and vitriol Beckham received following his petulant red card at France 98 was curious at the time, but even more so now considering his status as a national treasure.

Beckham's response to that sending off was the making of him. Not as a brand ambassador or underwear model, but as a footballer who in his prime was one of the world’s best.

And while Beckham would score more impressive free-kicks in his career, his late equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Leicester on the first day of 1998/99 was prescient.

Injury-time goals defined United’s season, with the future England captain - who finished 1999 as runner-up for the Ballon d'Or - integral to their historic treble.

Hey, Ravanelli! (1996/97)


The one constant of the ever-evolving Premier League is the visceral buzz generated by the arrival of a big-name import.

And Champions League winner Fabrizio Ravanelli joining Middlesbrough from Juventus remains one of the division's biggest ever coups.

The sight of the suave, silver-haired No. 11 at the Riverside was both unfamiliar and exciting, like when a work colleague brings their dog into the office.

Ravanelli enjoyed the perfect debut, too, firing a hat-trick as Boro started the season with a 3-3 draw at home to Liverpool.

And even though the striker’s time on Teeside was short, his famous celebration - running wildly with his shirt pulled over his eyes - was hazardously repeated on playgrounds for years to come.

You can’t win anything with kids (1995/96)


It is the line that is presumably repeated to Alan Hansen at charity golf days, after-dinner speaking events and wherever else he spends his well-deserved retirement.

His entrance into popular culture after Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa - the kids, of course, went on to win a league and cup double - was unfortunate.

But it also revealed the influence the former Liverpool defender had on the game in his role as Match of the Day pundit, a position he held for 20 years.

The tight format of the BBC show requires its analysts to essentially talk in soundbites, which makes providing genuine insight a difficult thing to do.

And while Hansen got it wrong that time, his ability to be forthright, substantial and articulate is a skill many of his successors - both on the BBC and other stations - are still to master.

Jurgen does a Klinsmann (1994/95)


Like when Paul Pogba joined Manchester United in 2016, Jurgen Klinsmann’s move to Tottenham came at a time when in-their-prime, world-class footballers rarely opted to come to the Premier League.

The German World Cup winner was not universally adored to begin with, though, mostly because of his reputation for being a diver.

But that perception soon changed when, after powering home a debut goal in a 4-3 win at Sheffield Wednesday, Klinsmann threw himself head first on to the grass in humorous self-deprecation.

The celebration became instantly iconic.

So much so that even those who were not old enough to remember Klinsmann - this writer included - gleefully copied the move on those heady summer days when lunchtime football matches were moved over from the tarmac to the grass.

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