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Seaman calls it quits
- ‘I have reached this difficult decision after much discussion...’

David Seaman announced the end of his 22-year career in controversial circumstances Tuesday night, just minutes after Manchester City’s embattled manager Kevin Keegan revealed that he had signed the England goalkeeper David James.

The sudden end to Seaman’s career, in which he won 75 England caps and two League titles, confirmed fears that his decision not to quit the game after he was released by Arsenal last season denied him the chance to leave football on a more positive note.

Ironically, the £1.5 million deal for James means that Seaman has been usurped at club level by the same man who took his beloved England No. 1 jersey after the goalkeeper’s international career ended on a similarly low note with a howler against Macedonia in 2002.

Suffering from recurrent shoulder problems, Seaman, 40, was set to miss the next four weeks through injury, but with City without a win in the last 14 games, Keegan has moved swiftly to sign a player he has admired since his time as England coach.

Despite the arrival of James, Seaman insisted that he would leave City on good terms. He said: “I have reached this difficult decision after much discussion with my family and those in the game whose views I respect.

“It has become clear to me that this type of injury will not quickly disappear and I think now would be a good time to hang up my boots, rather than at the end of the season as planned.

“After deciding to retire it was a pleasure to recommend David James. I wish him all the best. He is joining a great club with a first-class manager in Kevin Keegan and a great squad. I am looking forward to getting the shoulder better in order to explore potential goalkeeper coaching opportunities.”

Seaman lasted just 13 minutes against Portsmouth in City’s 2-4 defeat at the weekend, and sources at the club said the goalkeeper was alarmed by how easily his shoulder gave way despite a fairly innocuous challenge.

The decision to move to City last summer was taken after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to give the player another contract and, despite the pleas of Seaman’s best friend Bob Wilson, decided against making the former England international a goalkeeping coach. The move ended a bad season for Seaman after he refused to retire from international football despite being beaten direct from a corner by Macedonia’s Artim Sakiri during England’s 2-2 draw in the Euro 2004 qualifier.

The news that Sven-Goran Eriksson no longer trusted him in goal for England leaked out and, although Seaman was injured for the friendly against Australia, his fears were confirmed when James was picked for his first competitive international, against Liechtenstein in March last year.

Despite his attempts at bonhomie and occasionally poking fun at himself, Seaman’s ponytail and willingness to sign autographs ‘Safe Hands’ hinted at an individual who took his own reputation very seriously.

He is likely to be remembered for shouldering the blame for Ronaldinho’s lob for Brazil that knocked England out of the 2002 World Cup quarter finals.

Nevertheless, he was still capable of some remarkable performances late on in his career and his save from Sheffield United’s Paul Peschisolido in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford last season would have convinced the goalkeeper to continue.

Seaman’s time at City has hardly seen an improvement on his fortunes with injury restricting him to 26 appearances.

Keegan said: “This has been a difficult decision for David but I fully respect it. It says a lot about the man that he has been incredibly helpful to us as a club in finding a successor at such a testing personal time for him.”

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