David Seaman: Safe Hands

arsenal goalkeeper david seaman

Player Profile: David Seaman

Date of Birth: 19/09/1963

Height: 6 ft 3 in

Position: Goalkeeper 

National Team: England

International Caps: 75

Club Career

During a career that spanned 23 years, David Seaman was best known for his time at Arsenal where he won numerous titles. Born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, Seaman began his playing career at boyhood club Leeds United in 1981. But it wasn’t meant to be. Seaman wasn’t wanted by then manager Eddie Gray, who happened to be David’s favourite player growing up. So in August 1982, aged 19, Seaman moved south and signed for Peterborough in England’s fourth tier.

It was a huge step-down, but one he had to make for the good of his career. With the Posh, Seaman was able to make a name for himself and prove his worth. He made 91 league appearances for the club in two and a seasons before attracting the attention of Birmingham who were playing in the Second Division at the time. 

Seaman made the move in October 1984 for £100,000 and in his first season at the club helped the Blues gain promotion to the First Division. They were relegated the following season, but Seaman remained a top tier player.

In the summer of 1986, he was on the move again, his time to Queens Park Rangers for a fee believed to be in the region of £250,000. By now Seaman had established himself as one of England’s brightest up and coming talents.

At Loftus Road, Seaman would continue to develop and grow in stature. His fine form was rewarded with a maiden England cap in a friendly against Saudi Arabia, the great Sir Bobby Robson was the manager at the time. After 141 league appearances for QPR Seaman finally got the big money move he deserved, to Arsenal. Here he would become a club legend.

Arsenal had to pay a record £1.3 million, making Seaman Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper at the time. And he was worth every penny. His 13-year stint coincided with one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. With Seaman in goal, they were at their best in recent history. He was a wall between the sticks. Commanding. Agile. Distribution. He had it all.

In his first full season at the club Seaman helped Arsenal to their tenth league title, conceding just 18 goals in 38 league appearances. This would be the first of many trophies. Throughout the next twelve seasons, Seaman won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup four times, the Community Shield three times, the League Cup and the European Cup Winner’s Cup.

In 1993, during Arsenal’s winning League Cup campaign, Seaman made a name for himself as a penalty-saving specialist. He made three excellent saves from the spot in their shootout win over Millwall.

With Seaman in goal, Arsenal would win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1993–94 season. He was back to his penalty saving best in the following campaign, saving three penalties in the semi-final of the Cup Winners’ Cup against Sampdoria as Arsenal attempted to become back-to-back winners.

It was later revealed Seaman played the game with two cracked ribs which makes his efforts even more remarkable. Unfortunately, the Gunners lost to Real Zaragoza in the final to a Nayim lob from 40 yards. A goal which, in truth, Seaman should not have conceded.

In 1996 Arsène Wenger was named Arsenal manager. The Frenchman rated Seaman highly and in 1998 he was key to the team achieving a Premier League and FA Cup double. The following season, in their title defence, Seaman conceded just 17 league goals, but it was not enough to retain the title as Manchester United secured a famous treble.

By 2000 Arsène Wenger had Arsenal playing some of the best football on the continent. They deservedly reached the UEFA Cup Final where they lost to Galatasaray on penalties, with Seaman unable to reproduce his penalty saving heroics from earlier in his career.

Two years later Seaman completed a second career double winning the Premier League and FA Cup. Game time, though, was limited that season for England’s number one due to a number of niggling injuries. 

The 2002/03 season would prove to be his last at Arsenal. Now aged 40 Seaman’s form had dipped dramatically, but he ended on a high by lifting the FA Cup for the fourth time. Seaman kept a clean sheet as Arsenal beat Southampton 1-0. But it’s his performance in the semi-final against Sheffield United, and one save in particular that will live long in the memory of not only Arsenal fans, but anyone with a love for the beautiful game.

With the Gunners leading 1-0 and the Blades searching for an equaliser Seaman produced one of the greatest saves of all time. Stranded at the front post, Seaman was in no man’s land when the ball fell to Peschisolido six yards out. A simple header with the entire goal to aim at, it was harder to miss than score. But that’s exactly what he did. Seaman, out of absolutely nowhere, leapt to his right and somehow clawed the ball from behind him just before it went over the line. One of the greatest save of all time, no questions.

Seaman won eight major titles, played in goal more than anyone in the club’s history and is second to Ray Parlour in all-time Premier League appearances for the club. In the summer of 2003, he was released by the club after 13 years of service. But he wasn’t done just yet.

He linked up with Kevin Keegan at Manchester City. However, his time at the City of Manchester Stadium was a huge letdown. Seaman suffered several injuries and after less than a year at the club, he announced his retirement from professional football.

International Career 

After making his England debut in 1988, David Seaman went on to feature for the Three Lions in a record fifteen consecutive years. A few years later Rio Ferdinand became just the second player in history to equal the record.

Seaman was selected as England’s third-choice keeper for the 1990 World Cup but was forced to pull out of the squad due to injury. A few years later, with the arrival of Terry Venables, Seaman cemented his spot as England’s number one. He played every minute of every England match at Euro 96, where he famously saved two penalties during the tournament, one of which was against rivals Scotland. England were leading 1-0 and soon after Seaman’s save Gazza went up the other end of the pitch, sent Colin Hendry for a hot dog and doubled England’s lead in style.

Later in the tournament Seaman made himself a hero once again by saving Miguel Angel Nadal’s spot-kick to knock Spain out of the competition. But England’s number one could do nothing to stop the Three Lions losing on penalties. In the next round against old foes Germany. Seaman’s excellent form throughout the tournament saw him named in the UEFA Team Of The Tournament and the sponsor’s Player Of The Tournament.

Two years later Seaman remained England’s first-choice keeper, and once again he could do nothing to prevent the Three Lions from being knocked out of a major tournament via penalties. England departed the 1998 World Cup following a shootout defeat to Argentina. 

At Euro 2000 Seaman played the opening to group games before suffering an injury in the pre-match warm-up against Romania which resulted in him missing the game. England lost the match and were subsequently knocked out of the tournament.

The 2002 World Cup would turn out to be Seaman’s last major international tournament, and it’s one he’ll never forget for all the wrong reasons. England faced Brazil in the quarter-finals, a game famous for that Ronaldinho goal. The Brazilian’s freekick caught Seaman well off his line as England lost 2-1. After the game Seaman blamed himself for the error.

Speculation surrounding Seaman’s England future intensified following the result. And when he conceded directly from a corner during Euro 2004 qualification, his England career was over. Overall Seaman won 75 caps for his national team, making him the second-most capped goalkeeper in England history. Only Shilton has more.

Where is David Seaman now?

Since retiring from professional football Seaman has acquired his coaching badges and had a spell at Combined Counties League Club Wembley. He also appeared on and won Dancing On Ice. 

Did you know? Interesting facts about David Seaman

– Seaman is a keen angler and spends much of his spare time on the water carp fishing. 

– He kept a total of 140 Premier League clean sheets in his career.