February 25, 2013 by Made In Brum
Numerous England internationals have played for Blues over the years, but in recent times, most have had success on the international stage outside of their time at the club. One example of a player whose career skyrocketed after he left St. Andrews was moustached goalkeeper David Seaman. The ‘keeper spent two years in Birmingham before going on to have an illustrious career for Arsenal, and winning 75 England caps.
Seaman began his career as a youngster at Leeds United, before signing his first professional deal with Peterborough United in 1982. He spent two full seasons at London Road, making 83 appearances, before joining Ron Saunders’ Birmingham side 8 games in to the 1984/85 season. The club earned promotion to the First Division thanks to strong performances from Seaman, and 19 goals from striker Wayne Clarke. The 1985/86 season proved to be Seaman’s second, and last at the club, as the team finished in 21st place after only managing 8 wins. This included a run of 17 games without a win between September and February, and the departure of manager Saunders to the only team in the division with a record worse than Blues, West Bromwich Albion. Seaman made 75 appearances for Birmingham, but really began to make his name after his £225,000 move to Queens Park Rangers upon Blues’ relegation.
The ‘keeper made his QPR debut in an embarrassing 5-1 defeat at Southampton, aged 22, but made 41 appearances in a fairly successful season that saw the club finish 5th in the First Division. He spent three more years at Loftus Road, earning his first England call-up from Bobby Robson in 1988. George Graham brought Seaman to Arsenal for £1.3million, a new record for a goalkeeper, in 1990, and the ‘keeper became synonymous with one of the most successful spells in the club’s history.
In his first season, Seaman only conceded 18 goals while playing all 38 of the club’s league games, and Arsenal lifted the First Division trophy for 1990/91. The Gunners won both the FA Cup and League Cup in 1993, and new England manager Terry Venables made the long-haired goalkeeper the national team’s number one choice, which he would remain until 2002. He made 405 appearances in his time at Arsenal, and with 325, has the second most Premier League appearances for the club after Ray Parlour. The club won three league titles in his time at Highbury, two of which as part of a league and cup double alongside the FA Cup, and Seaman played a key role for the club in all 13 of his seasons, only missing a significant number of games in 2001/02, when he struggled with injuries. Upon leaving Arsenal at the end of the 2002/03 season, Seaman joined Kevin Keegan at Manchester City. He made 19 appearances at Maine Road, before injury forced him to retire in January 2004, aged 40.
Seaman’s international career spanned 14 years, and he was first choice for two European Championships and two World Cups. He played every minute of England’s Euro ’96 campaign, and saved two penalties against Scotland and Spain, earning the tournament sponsor’s Player of the Tournament award. The ‘keeper was also ever-present at World Cup 1998, and played in all but the team’s defeat to Romania at Euro 2000, picking up an injury before the game. The 2002 World Cup was Seaman’s last tournament appearance, and he drew criticism for being memorably chipped by a Ronaldinho free-kick in the Quarter-Final. He only played once more for England, conceding another avoidable goal directly from a corner against Macedonia, causing him to be replaced by David James.
Despite only spending a short time at Blues, Seaman was always well received when returning to St. Andrews, and went on to have an illustrious career for both club and country. He earned a reputation as a great penalty stopper, saving some important ones for both Arsenal and England, and is generally considered as one of the best goalkeeper’s in Premier League, and Arsenal’s history.
By Gregg Collett.