David James Interview

New £3.5m signing David James says it was the positive vibes exuded by Glenn Roeder that convinced him to leave Aston Villa for the Hammers.

England international goalkeeper James, who signed a four-year contract before being unveiled to the media this afternoon, says: 'What Glenn had to say to me was very encouraging, very positive, and without sounding silly, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.

'Without divulging the intimacy of our conversation, I asked Glenn: Are you going to have roughly the same side at the start of next season as you had at the end of the last one? The reference to the younger players was mentioned - it was an issue that had to be brought up - and his thoughts are massively positive.

'People query certain things, like Glenn's inexperience as a manager and the fact that West Ham have youngsters who are highly sought-after throughout the football fraternity. So yes, those are issues that had to be brought up.

'But at the same time, why should I go with a 'Mr Experience' somewhere else, just to get the money? We're going with a guy in Glenn who is youthful, as far as managers go, but he's got very positive thoughts and his whole attitude and demeanour is going to be helpful towards keeping any unsettled players and definitely encouraging younger players on the right career path.'

'With the young players he's got here, West Ham have the perfect nucleus for a successful side in the future.

'They had injuries last season, most notably to Trevor Sinclair. But apparently, he's now chomping at the bit and I'm looking forward to working with these people.

'Glenn is talking about building on the squad he's got but he's already got at least half-a-dozen players here who would easily grace 99 per cent of Premiership sides.'

After David's very public spat with Paolo Di Canio that spanned both games of the ill-fated Worthingon Cup quarter-final in December 1999 and January 2000, how does he view the prospect of being a team-mate of the fiery Italian?

James effectively ended the controversial tie in Villa's favour when he saved Di Canio's extra-time penalty in the second game at Upton Park. So wasn't it the case that they didn't see eye to eye?

'That's only because of the height difference!' jokes James. 'In all honesty, I'm sure you're aware of some of the journalistic tactics employed at times, especially when things come out in the papers a few days before a big game, as they did at the time of the replay.

'The situation with Paolo was, initially, not the best after coming off the field following the first game. But afterwards it turned into a bit of a joke as far as I was concerned.

'The beauty of it was that after the teams played each other again, in the League, just a few days later, we shook hands and it was gone. It was good fun!

'As far as I'm concerned Paolo is a quality player. When you're playing the game, you admire players for their footballing ability, that's all you worry about. Off the field, as long as you get along and don't fight all the time, there's no problem.

'If we can both help to improve the team, and also help to make each other better players, then that's all that matters.'



David admits the prospect of playing his football in the capital was another significant factor in joining the Hammers.

James continues: 'The London press are a very critical bunch but at the end of the day, if I want to be an international goalkeeper I've got to put up with that. If it's going right for me at club level, then there's no reason why it can't be all right at international level, too.

'I don't want to appear confrontational but you've got England's No.1 David Seaman, and now Richard Wright, playing just up the road at Arsenal, so it's going to a bit like head-to-head with them as far as trying to get into the England team is concerned.

'It's a challenge which, I must admit, I wouldn't have fancied three years ago, but I very much want it now. I'm much more mature.

'I look at how many of you guys are here today, but there were times when I came out after a game at Villa Park and they'd be only one local pressman waiting over in the corner.

'I've heard that Sven-Goran Eriksson and Tord Grip watched more matches at Upton Park last season than at any other Premiership ground - and with Joe Cole and Michael Carrick to look at, they'll be here a lot again next season. That can only be good for Joe, Michael and myself.

'I don' want to sound big-headed but I told Glenn: I want to be the England keeper by the end of next season and play in the World Cup finals. I'm ambitious and I know Glenn is, too.



His reaction to leaving Villa after two years?

'I'd been away in Los Angeles for a while but I was still surprised that there hadn't been any sign that the move was going to happen until John Gregory pulled me aside at training on Monday and told me the club had accepted West Ham's offer. Although it's fair to say that John and I didn't see eye to eye, I don't want to slag off Villa, though. It wouldn't be right.

'The whole issue with Villa was about their ambition. Glenn is a very ambitious manager and he spoke to me in great depth about the whole spectrum as far as West Ham is concerned and how I fitted into that. I loved hearing what he had to say and want to be around people who think that way.'



David will make his Premiership debut for the Hammers against his old club, Liverpool, on Auguist 18. When informed that Hammers hadn't won in the League at Anfield since 1963, James underlined his confidence again when he said: 'Yes, it's Liverpool away first game . . . a 2-0 win there will do nicely!'


David hopes to win over the fans quickly. He is renowned as a keeper who likes to dominate his penalty area and isn't afraid to come off his line to deal with crosses. He takes responsibility - and he makes occasional blunders, too.

'Look, as I said to Glenn, I'll drop a cross next season, I know I will. But I'll catch 45% more than other keepers.


'The West Han fans have aimed a few songs at me over the years. The one I remember most was playing at Upton Park when I had really bright yellow-coloured hair and they started chanting: You've got bird s*** on your head!' Nice one!'