David James (footballer)

David James (footballer)
David James
David Jamesgoalkeeper2.jpg
Personal information
Full name David Benjamin James
Date of birth 1 August 1970 (1970-08-01) (age 41)
Place of birth Welwyn Garden City, England
Height 1.94 m (6 ft 4 12 in)[1]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current club Bristol City
Number 1
Youth career
1986–1988 Watford
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1988–1992 Watford 89 (0)
1992–1999 Liverpool 214 (0)
1999–2001 Aston Villa 67 (0)
2001–2004 West Ham United 91 (0)
2004–2006 Manchester City 93 (0)
2006–2010 Portsmouth 134 (0)
2010– Bristol City 58 (0)
National team
1990–1992 England U21 10 (0)
1994–1996 England B 2 (0)
1997–2010 England 53 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21:23, 6 November 2011 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 16:08, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

David Benjamin James (born 1 August 1970) is an English footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Bristol City.

On 14 February 2009, he achieved the all-time Premier League appearance record with 536 appearances, overtaking Gary Speed. He held this record until being overtaken by Ryan Giggs on the 14th May 2011.[2] He was capped 53 times by England between 1997 and 2010, and was first choice goalkeeper during both Euro 2004 and the 2010 World Cup

He gained a Football League Cup winner's medal with Liverpool in 1995, and an FA Cup winner's medal with Portsmouth in 2008 as well as runners-up medals with Aston Villa in 2000, Liverpool in 1996 and Portsmouth in 2010. In 2010, he became the oldest goalkeeper to appear in the FA Cup Final at 39.

James also holds the Premier League record for most clean sheets, with 173.[3]


Club career


Born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, James signed as a trainee with Watford upon leaving school in 1989, and was first selected for the first team in 1989. In his days as a youth player, he helped Watford win the FA Youth Cup.[4] Following the departure of Tony Coton, James made his league debut on 25 August 1990 in a 1–2 defeat with Millwall, and his performance resulted in an England U-21 call-up for a match against the Republic of Ireland. He earned a total of ten caps for the U-21s.

At club level, James made 89 first-team appearances for Watford, and was named the club's Player of the Season for the 1990–91 season, when he kept goal in all 46 Second Division games as Watford escaped relegation. He was signed for £1.25m by Liverpool on 6 July 1992.[5] In 2008, James was inducted into the Watford Hall of Fame for his services to the club.[6]


James made his Liverpool debut on 16 August 1992 in a 1–0 league defeat to Nottingham Forest.[7] After conceding twenty goals in eleven matches in the first half of the 1993–94, he was dropped in favour of veteran Bruce Grobbelaar, but was recalled to the starting lineup and kept his first clean sheet of the season in a 1–0 away win over Arsenal on 31 January 1993, which included a penalty save. He also received a runners-up medal in 1996 in the FA Cup while being on the losing side against Man Utd.

James rose to fame together with Liverpool teammates Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp, and Robbie Fowler, who were nicknamed the "Spice Boys" – an epithet named after the Spice Girls that was used by those who alleged the Liverpool team of the 1990s were more focused on partying than winning games. James' frequent blunders earned him the nickname Calamity James. He put down his spate of errors to an overindulgence in playing computer games that in turn affected his concentration.[8] Despite winning the 1995 Football League Cup, James' hold on the starting position was put in jeopardy with the acquisition of Brad Friedel. On 23 June 1999, after 277 games for Liverpool, he was sold to Aston Villa for £1.8m.[9]

Aston Villa

James made his Villa debut on 7 August 1999, and kept a clean sheet in a 1–0 away win over Newcastle United in the opening Premier League game, and was decisive in a penalty shoot-out against Bolton Wanderers in the 2000 FA Cup semi-final, but then was at fault for Chelsea's winning goal in the ensuing final, the last to be staged at the old Wembley.

After just two years and 85 appearances, James moved to West Ham United for £3.5 million on 11 July 2001, signing a four year contract.[10] However, a serious knee injury sustained while on international duty kept him out for several months.[11]

West Ham United

His first appearance was on 24 November 2001 in a 1–0 home loss to Tottenham Hotspur.[12] In season 2002–03 West Ham were relegated to the Championship. James stayed with West Ham into season 2003–04 before returning to the Premier League, signing for Manchester City on 14 January 2004 for an undisclosed fee [13][14] as a replacement for the retired David Seaman. He played 102 total games in all competitions for West Ham.[15]

Manchester City

He made his City debut on 17 January in a 1–1 home draw with Blackburn Rovers.[16] Manchester City won only four of the seventeen matches that James started, two of which came after James saved penalties against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City.[17]

On the last day of the 2004–05 season, James was playing for City who needed to beat Middlesbrough to qualify for the UEFA Cup. With five minutes remaining the score was 1–1, when City's manager Stuart Pearce substituted midfielder Claudio Reyna for the substitute goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, and James was moved to play in attack for the remainder of the game. The unusual tactic almost worked when, in injury time, Middlesbrough defender Franck Queudrue conceded a penalty by handling a cross that was aimed at James. However Robbie Fowler's penalty was saved by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and so City did not qualify for the UEFA Cup.[18]

On 10 August 2006, James, who had separated from his wife, stated that he needed to leave Manchester City to be closer to his children, who lived in London. Manchester City confirmed they had accepted a bid from Portsmouth.[19] Two days later, he joined Portsmouth for £1.2 million, signing a two-year deal.[20]


He kept clean sheets in his first five appearances for Portsmouth.[21] In November 2006 James, long known for experimenting with his hairstyle,[22] was mildly ridiculed on the BBC's Match Of The Day for wearing his hair in a style similar to that of fictional character Clark Kent.[citation needed] He has explored the field of sport psychology to improve his skills as a goalkeeper; he has claimed that this study of psychology has helped him become better at saving penalty kicks.[23]

On 22 April 2007, James kept his 142nd Premier League clean sheet in a goalless draw with Aston Villa, breaking the record of 141 previously held by David Seaman.[24] James has also made the most league appearances[25] of any goalkeeper since the formation of the Premier League over fifteen seasons, in addition to conceding the most goals.[26] On 30 January 2008, in a league match against Manchester United, he became the third player (after Gary Speed and Ryan Giggs) to cross the 500-match threshold.

James signed a one-year contract extension in May 2007, which kept him at Fratton Park until the end of the 2008–09 season.[27] He then played a role in Portsmouth's victory over Liverpool in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy 2007 saving two penalties in the ensuing shoot-out, and won the 2008 FA Cup in a 1–0 victory over Cardiff City at Wembley. On 8 November 2008, he made his hundredth appearance for Portsmouth.[28]

He holds the distinction of twice having been the record holder for consecutive Premier League appearances, with 159 during his Liverpool days from February 1994 to February 1998, and 166 between Manchester City and Portsmouth from 2006 to 2008; both streaks were eventually topped by Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Aston Villa's Brad Friedel, respectively.[29]

On 14 February 2009 against Manchester City, James made his 536th Premier League appearance, breaking Gary Speed's all-time record.[30]

On 22 April 2009, Times Online named James as the 15th greatest player in Portsmouth's history.[31]

James captained Portsmouth in the FA Cup Semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur where Portsmouth won 2–0 in extra time, describing the experience as "superb".[32]

His contract expired at the end of the 2009–10 season, and he expressed interest in succeeding Avram Grant as Portsmouth manager,[33] though this came to nothing. The club offered him a new playing contract, but withdrew the offer after he failed to commit to the club, therefore James left Portsmouth and became a Free Agent.[34]

Bristol City

James signed a one year contract with Bristol City on 30 July 2010 to take effect 1 August with the option of a second year.[35] James also stated that he hopes his performances for Bristol City will keep him on the radar for the England team and that his decision to join them was to stay closer to his family as he lives in Devon.[36]

James' league debut for Bristol City resulted in a 3–0 defeat to Millwall on 7 August 2010.[37] On 11 February 2011, the eve of his 850th club appearance, James announced he had signed a contract extension with City until June 2012.[38]

International career

After making one England under-21 appearance whilst at Watford, James made his full debut for Glenn Hoddle's England in a friendly against Mexico on 29 March 1997 when he was a Liverpool player. He also kept his first international clean sheet as England beat Mexico 2–0 with goals from Teddy Sheringham and James' Liverpool team mate Robbie Fowler.

James is the only black goalkeeper to represent England as a full international.[39]

For several years he had to play understudy to England's regular keeper, David Seaman. When Seaman was dropped after making a mistake against FYR Macedonia in 2002, James became the new England number 1. He retained his place in the England team even after West Ham's relegation to the First Division in 2003, and was the only player from outside the top flight to win an England cap between 1999 (Michael Gray) and 2007 (David Nugent). He went on to play in all of England's matches in Euro 2004.

James was dropped from the starting XI after an error in a 2–2 World Cup qualifying draw against Austria in September 2004, his place being taken by Tottenham's Paul Robinson.

James came on as a halftime substitute and conceded all four goals in the 4–1 drubbing England suffered at the hands of Denmark during a friendly on 17 August 2005 — their worst defeat in 25 years. James still remained part of the England squad, and was selected as the second-choice goalkeeper behind Robinson for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, though he did not play.

Along with fellow veterans David Beckham and Sol Campbell, James was dropped from the England squad at the start of Steve McClaren's reign and was not called up during the 2006–07 season. He was recalled for the friendly with Germany on 22 August 2007, over a year since first being omitted. James subsequently played the whole of the second half of England's 2–1 defeat to Germany as a substitute for Robinson. In so doing, James became the first Portsmouth player to play for the senior England team since Mark Hateley in 1984. However, Scott Carson was chosen ahead of both James and Robinson for the decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia on 21 November 2007. England lost the match and Carson was blamed for Croatia's opening goal.[40] Following England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 McClaren was sacked as England manager and replaced by Fabio Capello. James was subsequently critical of McClaren's treatment of England's goalkeepers.[41]

On 7 February 2008, James was selected as goalkeeper for Capello's first match in charge, a friendly against Switzerland. It was James' first start for England since the friendly with Colombia in May 2005.[42] James firmly re-established himself as England's first choice goalkeeper, starting in each of Capello's first 13 games in charge. Persistent injury problems over the following year left James' hopes of retaining the #1 spot for the 2010 World Cup in doubt, with Capello stating he would only consider players who were 100% for his squad.[43] After the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on 1 April 2009, James did not start a match for England until the final friendly before the World Cup against Japan on 30 May 2010.[44]

2010 World Cup

Prior to the tournament he was backed to reclaim the number one shirt by former England goalkeepers Gordon Banks[45] and David Seaman.[46]

On 3 June 2010, it was confirmed that James would be travelling to the World Cup Finals in South Africa, and would be allocated the number 1 jersey. He was the oldest footballer in the tournament.[47] He was not selected for the first game of the World Cup against the United States with Robert Green starting in the England goal. James returned to the starting line-up in the next game, keeping a clean sheet against Algeria on 18 June 2010. In doing so James became the oldest ever World Cup debutant at the age of 39 years and 321 days. Five days later, he kept another clean sheet as England won against Slovenia 1–0 to ensure that they would reach the last 16, although they finished second in Group C behind the United States.

Against Germany in the round of 16, England lost 4–1, being eliminated from the World Cup in the process.

Career statistics



Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1989–90 Watford Second Division - - - - -
1990–91 46 0 - - - 46 0
1991–92 43 0 - - - 43 0
1992–93 Liverpool Premier League 29 0 - - - 29 0
1993–94 14 0 - - - 14 0
1994–95 42 0 - 1 0 - 43 0
1995–96 38 0 1 0 1 0 - 40 0
1996–97 38 0 2 0 4 0 - 44 0
1997–98 27 0 1 0 5 0 4 0 37 0
1998–99 26 0 2 0 - 5 0 33 0
1999–00 Aston Villa 29 0 5 0 5 0 - 39 0
2000–01 38 0 3 0 1 0 4 0 46 0
2001–02 West Ham United 26 0 3 0 - - 29 0
2002–03 38 0 2 0 2 0 - 42 0
2003–04 Championship 27 0 1 0 3 0 - 31 0
2003–04 Manchester City Premier League 17 0 - - - 17 0
2004–05 38 0 1 0 - - 39 0
2005–06 38 0 5 0 1 0 - 44 0
2006–07 Portsmouth 38 0 2 0 1 0 - 41 0
2007–08 35 0 6 0 1 0 - 42 0
2008–09 36 0 3 0 1 0 5 0 45 0
2009–10 25 0 4 0 0 0 - 29 0
2010–11 Bristol City Championship 45 0 1 0 0 0 - 46 0
2011–12 13 0 0 0 1 0 - 13 0
Career total 743 0 42 0 27 0 18 0 830 0
  • Stats accurate as of 17:05. 23 October 2011
    • Does not include appearance in 2008/09 Community Shield.

International statistics


National team Year Apps Goals
1997 1 0
1998 0 0
1999 0 0
2000 1 0
2001 3 0
2002 5 0
2003 11 0
2004 9 0
2005 3 0
2006 1 0
2007 1 0
2008 10 0
2009 4 0
2010 4 0
Total 53 0

Personal life

James was brought up in Welwyn Garden City, attending the Sir Frederic Osborn School.[52] He has four children with his former wife Tanya.[53]

In addition to his footballing career, James has gained attention for modelling assignments, first with Giorgio Armani in 1995,[54] and with H&M in 2005.[55] During the 2003 offseason, James was a guest at the training camp of American football team the Miami Dolphins, where he worked out and studied their training and conditioning methods.[56]

Charity work

In 2005, James visited the south eastern African nation of Malawi to help raise AIDS awareness.[57] He has since set up the David James Foundation in order to help fan producers in Malawi develop more efficient production techniques. The foundation also aims to give teenagers the skills needed to go out and work (for example mechanics and building work). He has recently made connections with West Exe Technology College, Exeter. This college has brought to his attention the Malawian charity, Friends of Mulanje Orphans.[58] The foundation funds the David James Foundation Scholarship at the University of Westminster, which funds a student from Malawi to study for a master's degree at Westminster.[59] The Charity has been supported this year by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).[60] James is also a global ambassador to the Special Olympics and works with Access Sport to provide sports provision in deprived areas of the UK.[61]


In addition to being an art lover, James writes a regular column for The Observer newspaper, and donates his article pay to charity.[62]



Aston Villa



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  24. ^ Aston Villa 0–0 Portsmouth
  25. ^ Premier League official appearance stats
  26. ^ Premier League official goalkeeper conceded stats
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  39. ^ http://paulboakye.net – Freelance Writer Editor Organiser Web Developer. "Best Black England Football XI, Ever". The Colorful Times. http://www.colorfultimes.com/2010/02/sports/football/black-england-football-xi/. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  40. ^ England 2 Croatia 3
  41. ^ Keeper James hits out at McClaren BBC Sport, 25 November 2007
  42. ^ England Senior Team Archive TheFA.com
  43. ^ [2]
  44. ^ [3].
  45. ^ David James should start for England at World Cup, says Gordon Banks guardian.co.uk, 19 May 2010
  46. ^ David Seaman exclusive: Why David James must be England's World Cup goalkeeper – The Big Interview mirrorfootball.co.uk, 12 March 2010
  47. ^ "World Cup squads: The story of the stats". Sport.stv.tv. 2010-06-02. http://sport.stv.tv/fifa-world-cup/180776-world-cup-squads-the-story-of-the-stats. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
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  54. ^ "Armani decks out Chelsea stars". http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/02/content_6465890.htm. Retrieved 18 August 2007. 
  55. ^ "Fit footballers score in sexy fashion ads". http://www.hellomagazine.com/fashion/2005/03/29/footballerfashion/. Retrieved 18 August 2007. 
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  58. ^ "David James Foundation". http://www.davidjamesfoundation.org.uk/index.asp. Retrieved 26 August 2007. 
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  60. ^ FA Cup winner unites with chemical engineers to tackle poverty – icheme.org, 22 May 2008, Retrieved on 29 November 2008
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