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1. David James

David James

By Jemma Tappenden
May 24 2009

David James, born August 1st 1970, made his first senior appearance for England in a friendly against Mexico on 29th March 1997, and has made a total of 48 appearances so far. In League football he has achieved the record of all time Premiership appearances, having over taken Gary Speedís previous record of 535 on 14th February 2009.

Born in Ross on Wye, Hertfordshire – James trained with Watford after leaving school in 1986.  As a youth player he helped Watford to a Youth FA Cup victory, and made his full league debut on 25th August 1990 in a 2-1 defeat to Millwall.  Despite the defeat his performance led to an England Under 21 call up, where he played against the Republic of Ireland.  James made 10 appearances for the Under 21s before being called up for the senior squad.


James was named player of the year at Watford in the 1991-92 season after helping the club escape relegation.  He had made a total of 98 first team appearances for Watford by the time he signed for Liverpool at a cost of £1 million on 6th July 1992.  His Liverpool career got off to a wobbly start.  In his second season after conceding twenty goals in eleven matches, James was dropped in favour of veteran Bruce Grobbelaar.  His appearances in the latter part of the 1990s earned him the nickname ‘Calamity James’ after making a series of errors between the sticks for Liverpool.  This didn’t prevent Glenn Hoddle calling him up to the England squad however, although he spent a significant amount of time during his early England days as an under study to David Seaman. 


On 7th August 1997 James moved to Aston Villa for £1.8 million.  After just two years and 85 appearances for the Midlands club James moved to West Ham for £3.5 million, where he stayed until moving to Manchester City in 2004 as a replacement for the retiring David Seaman.  James stayed at West Ham through their relegation to the Championship, playing a total of 102 games for the London club.  At the end of the 2004/05 season James signed a two year deal at Portsmouth, who paid Manchester City £1.2 million for the keepers’ services.  In 2007 he signed a one year contract extension to keep him at Fratton Park until the end of the 2008/09 season. 


James earned the role as England’s number 1 keeper during 2002, retaining his place despite West Ham’s relegation and going on to play in all of England’s Euro 2004 games.  In 2004 after a disastrous performance against Austria in a world cup qualifier James was dropped in favour of Paul Robinson.  James continued to be behind Robinson in the pecking order throughout the 2006 world cup, and was dropped once again upon Steve McLaren’s appointment as manager.  He was eventually recalled to the England set up in February 2008 for Fabio Capello’s first match as England manager against Switzerland.  He has now firmly re-established himself as England’s number 1 keeper.

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