Former Manchester United goalkeeping coach Tony Coton has revealed the reason why David Beckham had to leave Old Trafford in 2003.
Beckham came through the ranks at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson and went on to become a global superstar.
But they had a number of well-documented stormy moments, and the former England captain was eventually sold to Real Madrid for £25 million in the summer of 2003.
Beckham and Ferguson's most public fallout came in February 2003 when, after an FA Cup defeat by Arsenal, Ferguson kicked a boot at Beckham that left him with a cut above the eye.
Writing in his column in the Daily Mail, Coton, who was United's goalkeeping coach between 1998 and 2007, explained the situation at the time.
It wasn't the dressing-room row in the aftermath of a 2–0 FA Cup defeat at the hands of Arsenal at Old Trafford in 2003 that did for Becks. It was his reaction to the fallout, a crass attempt by the nation's favourite player to turn United fans and the general public against his boss.
Sir Alex and David were having words about the midfielder's failure to track back for the second goal. The manager saw a stray boot lying on the floor and kicked at it in frustration - only to see it fly above Becks' head. The boot thudded against the wall, but the metal aglet on one of the laces caught David above his eye. Becks felt blood trickle down his face, then lost the plot completely.
Thankfully, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs managed to calm their mate down, while Sir Alex told David that he was sorry for kicking the boot towards him. It was a genuine apology from the boss, even though it was a freak accident.
What David should have done was accept the olive branch and issue his own words of remorse, but he petulantly brushed the gaffer away before adding insult to injury.
With his hair held back by a hairband, Beckham made no attempt to hide his injury as he drove to United's training ground the next morning.
The incident was leaked to the tabloids and the next time Becks appeared in public his hair had been swept back off his face and held in place by an Alice band. A couple of butterfly stitches had been inserted into the small nick above David's eye, and he wanted the whole world to see.
When I saw how staged the photographs were I realised Beckham's PR experts had gone for Sir Alex's throat. My first reaction was: 'Close the door on your way out, David.'
In the final weeks of the season, it became the worst-kept secret at the club that Becks was Real Madrid-bound in the summer.