The tallest of the England goalkeepers, measuring in at almost 2-metres, David James made his name between the sticks at Watford, where he registered 89 appearances in English football’s second tier. His form for the Hornets earned him a big move to Liverpool where he went on to spend seven seasons and won the 1995 League Cup, before spells at Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City and current club Portsmouth, whom he joined in 2006.
Further knockout success came at Pompey in the shape of the 2008 FA Cup, while he also became the club’s first player to be capped by England’s senior side for 23 years. This agile, though occasionally error-prone, shotstopper also made history on 14 February 2009 when appearing in his 536th Premier League fixture, thus beating the all-time record held by Gary Speed.
Having previously picked up 10 caps for England’s U-21 side, the one-time Armani model was handed his full international debut on 29 March 1997 by then Three Lions coach Glenn Hoddle in a 2-0 friendly win over Mexico at Wembley. Though David Seaman and Nigel Martyn held sway in the battle for the England No1 shirt in subsequent seasons, from February 2003 James started 14 consecutive internationals and was his country’s first-choice keeper at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, starting all four games.
Although he was then ousted by Paul Robinson, the veteran keeper reclaimed the mantle of England’s first-choice keeper under Fabio Capello and, as of 10 October 2009, had collected 49 senior caps. The 2009/10 season was a frustrating one for James, who suffered a succession of minor injuries and saw Rob Green selected by the Italian coach for the majority of England’s fixtures. Time will tell whether James has done enough to win back the confidence of Capello once again.