I was meant to make my World Cup debut for England against Argentina, only for David Beckham to ruin my chance

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Les Ferdinand says David Beckham’s moment of madness squandered his chance of playing at the World Cup for England.

The Three Lions faced Argentina in the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup but went down to ten men two minutes into the second-half with the score at 2-2.

Ferdinand was named in a star-studded England squad for the 1998 World Cup

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Ferdinand was named in a star-studded England squad for the 1998 World CupCredit: Getty

Diego Simeone clattered into Beckham and a free-kick was awarded to England, but the latter retaliated by kicking the back of the Argentinian’s right leg in front of referee Kim Milton Nielsen.

He was quickly sent off and England went on to lose on penalties to exit the World Cup, but that wasn’t Ferdinand’s only heartbreak.

Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, he revealed that he was due to come on in the match, only for Beckham’s dismissal to change manager Glenn Hoddle’s plans.

“98 was kind of really different because I went there, you [Ian Wright] broke your ankle? Sorry, tore his hamstring, so I wasn’t expecting to go to 98 because I had a few injuries in the season.

“Glenn Hoddle put on a B team game at QPR for me and Le Tis [Matt Le Tissier] and I played in it, scored and everything. He goes, ‘I just need to get you some games, I want to take you,’ and he takes me.

“We were in the Argentina game, warming up, Glenn comes and gets me from behind the goal, says, ‘You’re going on.’ So I come back, get my top on, blah blah blah, walk to the sideline with Glenn and we were standing on the side.

“He’s telling me, ‘Right, I’m taking Michael [Owen] off, blah, you’re going on, this this this this, this is what I want you to do.’ Going through all the bits and pieces and as he does it, Becks falls on the floor, kicks out at Simeone.

“As he kicks out at Simeone, I look at Glenn, Glenn looks at me. Because the referee right, as the referee is running over, you know he’s going off, because the way the referee is running over he’s just going like this [imitates getting a card out] and he couldn’t wait to get the red card.

Beckham kicked out at Simeone and was subsequently sent off

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Beckham kicked out at Simeone and was subsequently sent offCredit: Getty
Ferdinand says that the dismissal cost him his chance to play in the game

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Ferdinand says that the dismissal cost him his chance to play in the gameCredit: The Overlap YouTube

“So I was looking at Glenn and Glenn looks at me, he goes, ‘Les, I’ve got to put someone on that can play midfield and get forward,’ and that was Paul Merson, so I sort of like retreated back.”

As was with England’s group games in France in 1998, Ferdinand remained on the bench against Argentina.

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He earned a total of 17 caps for the Three Lions but failed to feature at a major tournament, including Euro 96.

Had it not been for Beckham’s red card, then Ferdinand could well have been the man to steer England towards the quarter-finals, where they would have faced the Netherlands.

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