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David Benjamin James (born 1 August 1970 in Welwyn Garden Citymarker, Hertfordshiremarker) is an Englishmarker professional goalkeeper of Dominicanmarker descent who currently plays for English Premier League club Portsmouth and the England national team.

As of 14 February 2009, he achieved the all-time Premier League record of 536 appearances, having overtaken Gary Speed with 535. He has also been capped 48 times by England, having made his first appearance in 1997.

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 and Liverpool in 1996.

Club career


James signed as a trainee with Watford upon leaving school in 1986, 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. He 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 98 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 £1m by Liverpool on 6 July 1992. In 2008, James was inducted into the Watford Hall of Fame for his services to the club.


James made his Liverpool debut on 16 August 1992 in a 1-0 league defeat to Nottingham Forest. After conceding twenty goals in eleven matches in the first half of the 1993-94, he was benched in favor of veteran Bruce Grobbelaar, but was recalled to the starting lineup after the winter break and kept his first clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 road 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' occasional blunders earned him the nickname Calamity James, a reference to the eponymous cartoon published in children's comic The Beano. He put down his spate of errors to an overindulgence of playing computer games that in turn affected his concentration. 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.

Aston Villa

James made his Villa debut on 7 August 1999, and kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 road 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 Wembleymarker.

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. However, a serious knee injury sustained while on international duty kept him out for several months.

West Ham

His first appearance was on 24 November in a 1-0 home loss to Tottenham Hotspur. The following season West Ham were relegated to the Championship at the end of the season, but James stayed and played 102 total matches before returning to the Premier League, signing for Manchester City on 14 January 2004 for an undisclosed fee as a replacement for the retired David Seaman.

Manchester City

He made his City debut on 17 January in a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn Roversmarker. 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.

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 the midfielder Claudio Reyna for the goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, and James played 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.

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. Two days later, he joined Portsmouth for £1.2 million, signing a two-year deal.


He kept clean sheets in his first five appearances for Portsmouth. In November 2006 James, long known for experimenting with his hairstyle, 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. 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.

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. James has also made the most league appearances of any goalkeeper since the formation of the Premier League over fifteen seasons, in addition to conceding the most goals. 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 will keep him at Fratton Parkmarker until the end of the 2008-09 season. 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.

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.

On 7 February 2009, against Liverpool, James equalled Gary Speed's all-time Premier League record of 535 appearances. On 14 February 2009 against Manchester City, James made his 536th appearance, setting a new record.

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

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 as a Liverpool player, a game in which he kept his first international clean sheet as England beat Mexico 2–0 with goals from Teddy Sheringham and James' clubmate Robbie Fowler. For several years, however, 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.

However, 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 Blackburn'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 summer friendly on 17 August 2005 — their worst defeat in 25 years. However, 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 eventually 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. Following England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 McClaren was sacked as England manager and replaced by Fabio Capello. James has since been critical of McClaren's treatment of England's goalkeepers

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. James has now firmly re-established himself as England's first choice goalkeeper.

Personal life

James was raised in Welwyn Garden Citymarker, attending the Sir Frederic Osborn School. He currently lives in Chudleigh, Devon.

In addition to his footballing career, James has gained attention for modelling assignments, first with Giorgio Armani in 1995, and with H&M in 2005. 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.

Charity work

In 2005, James visited the south eastern African nation of Malawimarker to help raise AIDS awareness. 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 as brought to his attention the Malawian charity Friends of Mulanje Orphans. The foundation funds the David James Foundation Scholarship at the University of Westminstermarker, which funds a student from Malawi to study for a master's degree at Westminster. The Charity has been supported this year by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) . 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.


In addition to being an art lover, James has also written a regular column for The Observer, and donates his article pay to charity.


He collects Raleigh Chopper bicycles and Action Men, and converted his Chrysler 300 diesel estate to run on rapeseed oil.

James quit smoking in 2000 after a 15-year habit that he had started prior to his professional career, which he chronicled in a column for The Guardian on 16 March 2008 after joining Portsmouth's anti-smoking crusade.


He has four children. The eldest, Roderick 20, followed by Pauline, 10, Hector, 8 and the youngest, Fabio, 4.

Career statistics

Club Playing Honours


International Honours

2004 FA Summer Tournamentwinner

Individual Playing Honours

See also


  1. Aston Villa 0-0 Portsmouth
  2. Premier League official appearance stats
  3. Premier League official goalkeeper conceded stats
  4. I play for Aston Villa not for myself says Brad Friedel - Birmingham Mail, 29 November 2008, Retrieved on 29 November 2008
  5. England 2 Croatia 3
  6. Keeper James hits out at McClaren BBC Sport, 25 November 2007
  7. England Senior Team Archive
  8. FA Cup winner unites with chemical engineers to tackle poverty -, 22 May 2008, Retrieved on 29 November 2008
  9. It's time for the whole game to stub out my filthy habit The Observer, 16 March 2008
  10. People try to put us down, but I believe in Portsmouth's regeneration The Observer, 6 September 2009

External links

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 Premier League 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 Premier League 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 Premier League 38 0 2 0 1 0 - 41 0
2007-08 35 0 6 0 1 0 - 42 0
2008-09 34 0 3 0 1 0 5 0 43 0
2009-10 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0

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