Wednesday, 14 December 2011

David Seaman - Arsenal's greatest number 1

This is the first in a series of blogs conducting Arsenal's greatest eleven of all time using the results of polls of Arsenal fans.

There was only one place to start here, and despite Szczesny's best efforts in these recent matches, there was a clear winner, he is a long way behind Arsenal's tremendous list of Goalkeeping greats. 

The poll included Pat Jennings, who appeared in 3 consecutive FA Cup finals - winning one in 1979, John Lukic, the goalkeeper during the 1989 Championship winning side, Bob Wilson, the double winning 'keeper from 1971, and the invincible Lehmann.

Yet the winner of the poll, with a massive 66% and 271 votes out of 406, was Arsenal's most successful ever man behind the sticks, David Seaman. The popularity of Seaman was so much that he managed 68 more votes than the rest of the challengers combined, which was truly amazing.

Seaman was a world class quality and the final line of defence behind that back four in the 90's. If anyone ever got past Adams and co even then they probably had their hardest task of all, putting the ball past Seaman. His agility was amazing for someone so big, and David would continuously throw himself around the goal, saving almost impossible shots.

He was signed in 1990 for a then record British fee for a goalkeeper of 1.3 million pounds, having been a target of Arsenal and Manchester United for the last few years. In his first season, he was behind one of the most successful title winning teams of all time in 1990/1, where Arsenal went through the season losing one game, and only conceding 18 goals.

David carried on winning trophies at Arsenal, and soon became first choice for England when Terry Venables was appointed manager in 1994. During the early 90's, Arsenal lost the consistency to challenge week in, week out for the league, and became cup specialists, winning  both the FA Cup and the League Cup in 1993 and supplemented this a year later with the European Cup Winners' Cup.

With the arrival of Wenger in September 1996, Seaman continued to be number one. In the Frenchman's first full season, David helped guide the Arsenal to their first "double" triumph in 21 years. A year later, Seaman played all 38 league matches, conceded only 17 league goals as Arsenal came agonizingly close to retaining the Premier League and lost in the FA Cup semi-finals to Manchester United.

In another remarkable year, with a new squad assembled including the likes of Robert Pires, Sol Campbell and Thierry Henry, they managed to repeat the "double" achievement four years later in 2002.

In his last year at the club, David enjoyed one of his proudest moments where, as captain due to Vieira's absence, he held aloft the FA Cup trophy. This came after his unbelievable save in the semi final from a Paul Peschisolido's header, one which Peter Schmeichel dubbed "the best save I've ever seen". That would be his 12 trophy with the Arsenal.

In the summer of 2003 he was transferred to Manchester City, yet had to retire after more injury problems. In his amazing career, he made 75 appearances for England, and made 564 appearances for the Arsenal. He was our greatest number one.

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