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England goalkeeper who binge-drunk, smoked 20 cigarettes daily

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David James
Former England goalkeeper David James. Photo/Liverpool Echo
  • Former England goalkeeper David James has unusual memories of his days playing for England as a goalkeeper
  • He started his career in 1986 and for another two decades, he was a player and football manager
  • He recalls drinking up to 3 am and chain smoking 20 cigarettes every day while still a player for England

Former England goalkeeper David James has unusual memories of his international career dotted by binge drinking and chain smoking.

Speaking on Harry Redknapp’s podcast,  James who played England’s national team and Three Lions said he would drink up to 3 am and smoked 20 cigarettes every day.

At the time, he was under coach Peter Taylor and appeared in three World Cups, among them the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Redknapp, a former Portsmouth manager who runs the podcast couldn’t believe that James always played football with such a lifestyle.

In James’ narration, Taylor was the first coach to take him for a warm-up and he performed dismally because of his smoking habits.

“Peter Taylor was the first one to take me for a warm up. It was weird: ‘we are going to go out for a warm up.’ He put me through my paces. I thought – ‘hang on a minute. I’m knackered.’ The fact that I smoked 20 fags a day didn’t help,” he recalled in the podcast.

David James

David James. Photo/Eurosport

ENGLAND 90S SQUAD MEETING POINTS

James recalls that in the 90s, the England squad would always meet at a downtown bar in Burnham Beeches. They would camp here until 3 o’clock in the morning and it was the norm for many years.

For a change of scenery, James together with his squad frequented The Queen Victoria Pub (Queen Vic) and make themselves comfortable in Ince’s room.

Here, those who wanted alcohol would binge drink all night and smoke endlessly while playing computer games.  They loved The Queen Vic because it was communal in nature and it took care of everyone even those who do not drink or smoke.

DAVID JAMES CAREER

David James has a flawless career as a goalkeeper, a coach/manager and TV pundit on football. James played in 572 professional games, and ranks fifth on the list of all-time Premier League appearances. He at one time held the league record with 69 for most clean sheets.

Throughout the history of the Premier League, he is known as the goalkeeper who saved the most penalties. The former England goalkeeper received 53 caps for the team English team between 1997 and 2010.

England picked him as their first goalkeeper for the World Cup and Euro 2004 campaigns. Years later, his contribution to charity and football earned him a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours.

WHEN DID DAVID JAMES START HIS FOOTBALL CAREER?

David James England

David James England. Photo/Goal

David James started his career in 1986 at Watford where he played as a youth until 1988 where he played another four years as a senior.  Here is an outline of his scope of work during his career.

LIVERPOOL

James left in 1992 for Liverpool until 1999. Anfield sold him to Aston Villa for £1.8 million ($2.1 million) after playing 277 games for the team.  He stayed here for two seasons and moved to West Ham United after 85 appearances for £3.5 million ($3.8 million) and left in 2001.

MANCHESTER CITY

He joined Manchester City in 2001 and stayed with the club until 2006 to be nearer to his children who lived in London with his ex-wife. Portsmouth signed him for a £1.2 million ($1.5 million) two-year deal which was renewed for another two years.

PORTSMOUTH

At the conclusion of the 2009–10 season, when his contract was up, he indicated an interest in taking over as manager of Portsmouth. But nothing came of it. James left Portsmouth and became a free agent after the club extended him a new playing contract but withdrew it after he failed to commit.

BRISTOL CITY, ÍBV VESTMANNAEYJAR

That’s when he joined Bristol City, in 2011 for a one-year deal where he celebrated his 900th club appearance in the premier league. After his departure in 2012, he joined AFC Bournemouth in 2013 for a one-year but he left before the end of the contract. It is then that the Icelandic club, ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar, is a coach and player.

David James ended his career at Kerala Blasters, in the Indian Super League under a player/manager agreement in 2014.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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