MANCHESTER — David Beckham was the star of the show as his UNICEF Match for Children went down a treat at a packed Old Trafford on Saturday.
Over two years on from his last match for Paris Saint-Germain and now aged 40, the former England international provided a reminder of his on-field prowess as well as his star quality.
Alex Ferguson's Great Britain and Ireland team won 3-1 against Carlo Ancelotti's Rest of the World outfit in a game that had more than its fair share of memorable moments as a lively crowd lapped it up.
Beckham, who started his storied career at Manchester United, had already received a rapturous reception prior to the match when he addressed the crowd to thank them for supporting the charity clash he had played a key role in organizing.
He was greeted by a standing ovation and flashbulbs galore every time he went over to take a corner and had a positive influence on the match itself, as well as delighting the fans with his presence alone.
United supporters in attendance were treated to a trip down memory lane after 13 minutes when Beckham's perfectly weighted cross from the right was met in the box by Paul Scholes – who timed his run to perfection – to head home, prompting a wide smile from Ferguson in the dugout.
Classic Beckham pic.twitter.com/xRIjR8m2fD— Footy Jokes (@Footy_Jokes) November 14, 2015
He also had a hand in GB and Ireland's second goal, finding Scholes at the back post, who in turn set up another ex-United player Michael Owen to finish from six yards.
Beckham then provided the pass for Ashley Cole in the closing minutes, with the defender's cutback missed by Raimond van der Gouw to give Owen the easiest of braces. Dwight Yorke had made it 2-1 with a neat finish.
Other players to impress included Ronaldinho, who came tantalizingly close to playing his football at United before opting to join Barcelona from PSG. He displayed a string of tricks and flicks throughout the match and almost embarrassed ex-England keeper David Seaman with a late chip, after infamously beating the same player with a free kick for Brazil back at World Cup 2002.
Meanwhile, Cafu, 45, was more than a match for Roma defender Cole in an ongoing battle down that flank.
But this was Beckham's day and he had the full array of trademarks on show – pinpoint crosses from the right, sweeping long-range passes and threatening corners to create a string of chances for the likes of Scholes, Owen, Darren Fletcher and Peter Crouch.
And there was a touching moment when he was replaced by his son Brooklyn in the 76th minute, before he came back on to share the field with his first born for the final eight minutes.
Beckham warmly embraced players from both sides after the full-time whistle and took the acclaim of Old Trafford once more as he thanked the supporters and posed for photos with Brooklyn.