David James became known as a keeper of great promise when he burst onto the scene at Vicarage Road, Watford. But then earned the tag 'Calamity James' after moving to Liverpool in 1992 for £1m. James is now at his peak showing the strengths of his game - he is an excellent shot-stopper and not afraid to come out for crosses. That can sometimes backfire with ill-judged forays leaving him stranded out of his goal, but at his best he is a commanding presence.
James moved to Aston Villa for £1.7m in the summer of 1999 after making 279 appearances for the Reds. A gruesome-looking nose injury sustained during a Man of the Match performance against Everton in November 2000 may put an end to James' sideline as a catwalk model. But his performance and guts in that match spoke volumes about the player. After a run in with the bosses at Villa during the 2000/01 season he handed in a transfer request. It was clear he was far from happy at the club, although he later withdraw the request. In July 2001 he moved move back to London when he signed for Glenn Roeder's West Ham for £3.5million.
He made his international debut against Mexico in 1997 and bagged the No 1 jersey in Peter Taylor's 'young' England team that lost 1-0 against Italy in the Delle Alpi stadium in November 2000. He received his second consecutive start in Sven Goran Eriksson's team for the experimental friendly against Spain at Villa Park in February, but picked up a serious knee injury whilst playing for England against Holland in August 2001.The injury left him out of the game for four months making West Ham considered suing for compensation. A string of fine performances saw him return to the England team in February 2002 and travel to the Ajax Amsterdam Arena where he helped get a 1-1 draw against, ironically, Holland. He pipped Richard Wright to the third and final goalkeeper's slot for the 2002 World Cup, although he didn't feature in the finals.
After the World Cup James took over the position as Englands number 1 from David Seaman. An unbroken run of eight starts between the posts represents the longest run for an England goalkeeper, David Seaman apart, since Chris Woods played 14 times in succession a decade ago. James later followed in Seaman's footsteps to guard the goal at Manchester City when the former Arsenal man hung up his boots in January 2004, due to a nagging shoulder injury . City signed the shot-stopper in a surprisingly £2m move as Kevin Keegan splashed out for the England International. West Ham needed the money to reinvest in their squad, to build for a return to the Premiership, and James followed the footsteps of another England man Trevor Sinclair from the Walkers Stadium to CoMS.
James revealed his former Liverpool and England mates played a big part in his decision to join the club:It wasnt just a case of me wanting to get back into the Premiership at all costs after being relegated to the First Division with West Ham. I hadnt really been following Premiership football this season. I was concentrating more on what I was doing. But I spoke to Macca and Robbie and they said City was a fantastic place to play football." James also knew he would have no difficulty working with Keegan as they had always got on well when the City manager was coaching England: Kevin basically brought me back into the England fold a few years back and I genuinely like the bloke. He is a players player and I am looking forward to linking up with him again. Hopefully he will help me improve my game and help the club at the same time. James signed a 2½-year contract after passing a medical at the City of Manchester Stadium.