When Beckham came to town

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A former Lancaster City goalkeeper has fond memories of David Beckham’s visit to the city.

The ex-England captain, who has announced he will retire from football at the end of the season, played in a pre-season friendly for Manchester United at the Dolly Blues’ Giant Axe back in July 1997.

Then City stopper Mark Thornley was the star for the home side as a United side including a 22-year-old Beckham and Gary Neville ran out 4-0 winners.

Thornley, now 47, said: “I think the United squad had gone to Italy and Beckham and some others were left behind so we got a bit a bit of shock when we saw the team sheet.

“It was fantastic. In the club house afterwards he was signing loads of autographs.”

The former Morecambe goalkeeper was able to keep out some of Beckham’s famous free-kicks and was disappointed not to save an 86th-minute penalty from the midfielder whose glittering career took him to Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy and AC Milan.

Thornley said: “It was a great day. I made a few saves from his free-kicks and got a hand to his penalty but it went in off the post.

“I’ve got the picture of the two of us signed by him. It’s in a frame somewhere in the house!”

Beckham, 38, also spent a spell on loan at Preston North End in the 1994-1995 season.