This could be the beginning for David James. At the age of 32 many players are s
This could be the beginning for David James. At the age of 32 many players are starting to wind down their careers, with coaching and the media two obvious potential pathways.
Not David James. With every chance that he could make his England debut in competitive action tomorrow, David told TheFA.com that he's ready to step out of the shadows and stake his claim for the England number one shirt. Not just for now...but for years to come.
David has eleven England caps but, if he gets the nod tomorrow, it will be the biggest game of his international career. And you can be sure he won't take his opportunity for granted.
Having spent the entire summer with the England squad in Japan without ever getting a taste of the competitive action, he knows that he must grab any chance that he gets.
"With the World Cup obviously there's a euphoria - the Argentina game for example," he recalls. "We won and the fans went mad and the players who took part went mad - and I obviously was delighted because we'd won - but then there's a come down when I'd think well, I didn't play and I didn't support - you're sort of slightly detached.
"It was the same thing throughout the World Cup. You're there but you're not there. If you're not going then you're a supporter and that's all you're going to be you've got no other influence. When you're playing or you're on the bench you focus, focus, focus but if you're a member of the squad but not playing you're somewhere in between.
"The Brazil game is a good example - the final whistle's approaching and you think 'I haven't played - this is the end of our World Cup and I haven't played.'
"I wasn't annoyed or frustrated I wasn't playing because, the way the camp was set up everyone was enjoying each other's company with a really good team ethos going on. It wasn't really until I got home and thought ...six weeks and I didn't play. But that's part of a professional's life."
The good thing for David is that, even at the age of 32, time is still on his side.
"Look at Dave Seaman - he's 39 now but personally I think he looks a bit sharper now than he did a few years ago," he says of his fellow number one. "Physically each person is different but techniques now in football permit older players to go on a bit longer.
"Gordon Strachan played on but was almost exclusive at the time, whereas now you can easily reel off four or five players in the Premiership who are regularly playing first team football at the age of 37,38 plus. So the boundaries are being stretched and with the fitness and the techniques now being used those boundaries will be pushed further."
So how long can we expect to see 'Jamo' pulling on an England and West Ham shirt?
"I'll go on as long as I'm happy. It's not the money that drives me - money doesn't buy you happiness. I don't play badly and think well as long as I'm getting paid I can get away with it.
"If I got to the stage where I wasn't happy then I'd stop. But I enjoy it at the moment. It's always a challenge and I like challenges."
For a variety of reasons David has always grabbed a few headlines down the years. So many people have an opinion about him as a goalkeeper but how exactly does he see himself? Does he consider himself as one of the 'keepers that takes both chances and the pressure off their defence such as Barthes or Grobelaar or more of a solid citizen like Seaman and Martyn?
"I'd describe myself more across the board I think," he explains. "For me one of my strengths originally was that I would take risks or there was an element of risk that was supposedly calculated.
"But it's about education really - you realise with some experience that you don't do certain things. But at the same time, be too reserved and you don't get the best out yourself.
"So, I say across the board because I know I've been one end of the scale and I know I've been the other end of the scale. At the moment I'm trying to find a happy medium...or perhaps not a happy medium but my place."
That place, he will hope to show, is in the England Number One shirt.
David James was talking to Daniel Freedman
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