Cape Town: Amid the England gloom, there was
one player in the Three Lions` kit holding his head high after
his country`s disappointing 0-0 draw against Algeria.
David James, after three World Cups as a backup, and two
decades as a professional goalkeeper, made his debut on
football`s grandest stage. And despite some early nerves, the
39-year-old Englishman kept a clean sheet yesterday.
Now he wants to stay between the posts.
"It`s been a long time," said James, who replaced Robert
Green in the lineup after Green`s dreadful mistake that
allowed the United States to draw with England 1-1 in their
opening match last week.
"Three attempts to play at my first game! So that was
nice. But any initial feeling was put aside and I focused on
trying to win the match."
That, England failed to do as it`s star-studded attack of
Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard fizzled against
the dogged defense of Algeria, which was fighting to stay
alive. But unlike the game against the Americans last week,
this time the goalkeeper couldn`t be blamed.
"Defensively we were very good," James said. "Algeria
likewise were very good defensively. Unfortunately for the
spectators it turned out to be pretty miserable 0-0 draw."
The Portsmouth captain once known as "Calamity James" for
his penchant for mistakes, had an early scare when he chose to
punch a seemingly harmless Algeria cross as it sailed toward
the goal-line. Instead of punching over, he knocked it straight
up and kept the ball in play. The England defense recovered
He was more assured in the second half, as England`s
defense clamped down and prevented Algeria from any shots on
goal. Though he once left his line hesitantly on a long pass
cleared by defender Jamie Carragher, his confidence grew with
the match and his presence seemed to assure the England rear
"It was a very tough game," James said. "They went out
not to beaten, it seemed. And they achieved that."
James said he sympathized with Green, who was benched
after fumbling Clint Dempsey`s tame 25-yard-shot into the goal
in England`s opening match.
But James said he would now concentrate on training hard
and trying to win a place in coach Fabio Capello`s squad for
England`s must-win match on Wednesday against Slovenia.
"The fact that I was playing today doesn`t mean that I
will play in the next match," he said. "It`s nice to play,
it`s nice to keep a clean sheet defensively. It was a decent
performance. We train hard now for a few days, and we wait for
the selection five minutes before we leave before the game on