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David Andrew Seaman MBE (born 19 September 1963) is an English former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper for several clubs, most notably Arsenal. He retired from the game on 13 January 2004, following a recurring shoulder injury. He was appointed an MBE in 1997 for services to the sport.
Seaman was born in Rotherham, West Riding of Yorkshire. He attended Kimberworth Comprehensive School. He began his career at Leeds United, the club he supported as a boy. However (much to his disappointment), he was not wanted by then-manager Eddie Gray, who had been his favourite player. Seaman went to Division 4 club Peterborough United for a £4,000 fee in August 1982, where he began to make a name for himself.
Just over two years later, in October 1984, Second Division Birmingham City paid £100,000 for Seaman's services. They ended up winning promotion at the end of that season, but were relegated again at the end of the following season. Seaman was not to follow them back to Division Two, however.
In August 1986, Seaman moved to Queens Park Rangers for £225,000. Playing in a higher profile club on a plastic pitch, he earned his first England cap, which came under Bobby Robson in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in November 1988. Whilst at Q.P.R., Seaman was coached by Arsenal double-winner (of 1971) Bob Wilson, who was to work with him for more than a decade.
The peak of his career was during his period as Arsenal and England goalkeeper in the 1990s and early 2000s; during his time at Arsenal he won many medals including three league championships (1991, 1998, 2002), four FA Cups (1993, 1998, 2002, 2003), the League Cup in 1993 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1994. During this time he also played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, and Euro 96 and Euro 2000, and is England's second-most capped goalkeeper with 75 caps, after Peter Shilton.
Seaman's career highs came in his successful performance in UEFA Euro 96 and in Arsenal's UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, Premier League and FA Cup (including a superb save from Paul Peschisolido for Sheffield United in the FA Cup 2002–03) campaigns in the mid-90s and early-2000s. Notable lows came with two costly errors, both from long-range efforts — conceding a last-minute goal in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final to Nayim and conceding to a Ronaldinho free-kick in the 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-final.
Seaman is left-handed, but throws the football with his right arm and kicks with his right foot. He also played in the Premier League for Manchester City, as well as appearances in the Football League for Peterborough United, Birmingham City and Queens Park Rangers.
In 1990, long before the current transfer window system had come to English football, there was still a transfer deadline a few weeks before the end of the season. Arsenal, who had won the league in 1989, wanted to sign Seaman, but the deal involved Arsenal's keeper John Lukic heading the opposite way on loan. Lukic did not want to do this, and the deal broke down and remained unresolved when the deadline passed.
As soon as the season ended and clubs were allowed to buy players again, Arsenal manager George Graham came back for Seaman, with £1.3 million (at the time a British record for a goalkeeper) being the agreed fee. Lukic, who was highly popular amongst Arsenal fans, left to rejoin Leeds.
Seaman's time at Arsenal coincided with one of the most successful periods in the club's history. The 1990–91 season saw Seaman concede only 18 goals when playing in every match of the 38-game season as Arsenal regained the league title.
Arsenal won both the FA Cup and the League Cup in 1993 and supplemented this a year later with the European Cup Winners' Cup.
In 1995, George Graham was sacked, and Arsenal came close to becoming the first club to retain the Cup Winners' Cup, with Seaman earning a reputation as a penalty-saving specialist after saving Attilio Lombardo's shot in Arsenal's semi-final shoot-out against U.C. Sampdoria. However, in the final Arsenal lost in extra time to Real Zaragoza, with a spectacular last-minute goal from Nayim from 45 yards out catching Seaman off his line. It was noted that there were only seconds left of extra time when Seaman conceded.
In August 1996, Arsène Wenger became the new manager of Arsenal. Wenger rated Seaman highly and in 1998, Seaman helped the team to the Premier League and FA Cup double. In 1998–99, Seaman played all 38 league matches, conceding only 17 league goals as Arsenal came within one point of retaining the Premier League and lost in the FA Cup semi-finals to Manchester United. The following season Seaman managed to reach the 2000 UEFA Cup Final, which Arsenal drew 0–0 with Galatasaray, but lost on penalties.
In 2002, Seaman won the Premier League and the FA Cup again to complete his second career double, although Arsenal's other goalkeepers Stuart Taylor (10 appearances) and Richard Wright (12 appearances) also won championship medals, due mainly to Seaman's absence through injuries. A highlight of this season was when Seaman dramatically saved a Gareth Barry penalty as Arsenal won 2–1 at Aston Villa.
Despite his international career ending so flatly and accusations his mobility had faded with age, the 2002–03 season—Seaman's last at Arsenal—ended on a high note. In the FA Cup, he made a spectacular save against Sheffield United's Paul Peschisolido in the semi-finals, in what former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, a pundit for the BBC on the day, dubbed "the best save I've ever seen".
Arsenal were defending a 1–0 lead, when with less than ten minutes to go, Peschisolido had a header towards an apparently open goal from six yards out with Seaman seemingly stranded at the near post. However, the goalkeeper leapt sideways and backwards, somehow managing to stretch his right arm behind him and scoop the ball back and away from both his goal and the opposing players ready to pounce on a rebound. The match was all the more remarkable in that it was Seaman's 1,000th professional career game. Seaman went on to captain the team during the 2003 FA Cup Final in the absence of injured Patrick Vieira and keep another clean sheet at the Millennium Stadium as they defeated Southampton 1–0.
His final act with Arsenal was to lift the FA Cup, which was his eighth major trophy with his team. Seaman played in goal for Arsenal more times than anyone else, and is second after Ray Parlour in the all-time Premier League appearances chart for Arsenal, with 325 to his name. In June 2008 he was voted seventh in the list of 50 Gunners' Greatest Players.