Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Perfectionist James Saves Best until Last; Footballer of the Month

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Perfectionist James Saves Best until Last; Footballer of the Month

Article excerpt


MOST goalscorers can talk you through a catalogue of their greatest goals, so I assumed that most goalkeepers-would similarly store their great saves in the memory bank.

Perhaps most do, but not David James. He is not 'most' goalkeepers.

Each time you meet him you learn something new. Sketching, for instance, is now occupying more of his free time.

"Mainly the children of friends," he explained. "I enjoy drawing."

He could probably paint an accurate and dramatic picture of that superb save he made for England against Turkey last week but would prefer not to. "It's not the saves that I like to remember, but the reasons why I made them," he said.

"I think about how and why I did it.

You remember the good things, the positive things. I've learned not to harp on about any one incident, whether good or bad. If you keep playing one save in your head, you're going to replay the mistakes too.

"If I make a good save it's because I got my preparation and training right.

That's what I want to remember."

To support his theory James cites his experience in the run-up to the European Championship qualifier with Turkey at Sunderland. "The day before I wanted to work on crosses in training, but it was too windy," he recalled.

"We weren't due to train on the morning of the match but I told Ray Clemence, the goalkeeping coach, that I wanted to catch some crosses. He got Richard Wright and Paul Robinson up early and we went out and spent 40 minutes working on crosses. On a couple of occasions, I also had to make reflex saves from headers.

"I'm not saying that one training session was responsible for the save I made later that day but the work I did in the morning ensured that I maintained a high level of focus, mentally and physically, throughout the match.

It was a contributory factor."

For me that one spectacular save, twisting backwards to tip away a header from under the bar, was the defining moment for James in an international career that has been spent in the long shadow of the mighty David Seaman.

James made his England debut six years ago but it was not until he faced Liechtenstein in Vaduz almost two weeks ago that he had his first taste of competitive international football. …

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