Arsenal Legends During Arsene Wenger's Era: David Seaman

Vincent ChowCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2009

How could anyone forget him? Quite simply the greatest ever goalkeeper to have played for Arsenal.

As Wenger once described, Seaman might look soft at times, smiling all the time and never losing his cool. But he was had a tough mind, "Mr. Safe Hands" was filled with confidence inside.

Confidence is so important for goalkeepers, and after the "Nayim from the half way line" and Ronaldinho "cross/shot free kick", you wouldn't have blamed the man for losing confidence. Yet, he always picked himself up and was the most consistent goalkeeper to have ever played for the Gunners.

Arriving at a then transfer-record for a goalkeeper, 1.3 million pounds, George Graham replaced John Lukcic, who was loved by many Arsenal fans, with David Seaman, who made a name for himself after his heroics with Q.P.R.  

With Wenger as manager, Seaman won the F.A. Cup three times and the Premiership twice. Having played all 38 league matches, he conceded only 17 league goals in the 1998-99 season.

According to Wenger, Seaman was not technically as great as perhaps the other great goalkeepers such as Banks, Buffon or Schmeichel. He also perhaps didn't havethe best reflex. But what he lacked in technique, he replace with athleticism. He had a big frame and was fantastically agile for such a big man. He was remarkably consistent considering the amount of matches he has played and the amount of mistakes he made.

Yes, the mistakes were costly in terms of silverware, but no one can forget the amount of match-saving-saves he had made for club & country, and the guy, is without doubt, the best goalkeeper to have played for Arsenal under Wenger.

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Greatest Save

The one that springs to the mind first is the one I am going to choose. That save against Sheffied United was something special. Fittingly, this save came in his 1000th career match, where Seaman captained the Gunners to a 1-0 victory in the F.A. Cup semi-final.

Peschisolido of Sheffield United thought he was heading the ball into an empty net from a yard out. But Seaman, aged 39 at that time, jumped backwards and stretched his right arm to scoop the ball away from goal.

The save brought comparisons to the Gordon Banks' save from Pele, and quite deservingly so. Even Peter Schmeichelclaimed it was the greatest save he had ever seen. 

Most Memorable Match

For England, perhaps the match against Scotland in 1996. But for the Gunners, it is obviously going to be the same match as above, the F.A. Cup semi final against Sheffield United.

Yes, he might have made more saves in other matches, but that save was so important that, having conceded the league title to Man Utd, Arsenal were in desperate need of a trophy, and without that save, which occured in the last 10 minutes of the match, it could've been all over in terms of the trophies that year for Arsenal.

Most Memorable Moment

That save, was great obviously. But to me, as my 'Arsenal Goalkeeping Hero', I just felt his final match for the Gunners, the F.A. cup final against Southampton, 2003, beats everything, emotioanally at least.

He made a tremendous savefrom Brett Ormerold's thunderous volley from a tight angle, a save which Wengersaid was "technically perfect". The camera then focused on Seaman, who was looking like a man with a mission. 

He very much knew that it was his last game for the Gunners, but his focus on the task at hand was just phenomenal. For me, the greatest moment of his Arsenal career, under Wenger at least, was when he lifted the famous trophy as he bids farewell in 2003.

What Did He Give to Arsenal?

That famous back four is should be the famous back five. Seaman was very much a part of that unbreakable defence and as mentioned above, 17 goals conceded in 38 premiership matches in no easy task.

He was a strong leader for the team too, he was very close to most, if not all the players in the team. In terms of his play, apart from stopping shots from going into the net, he was excellent at claiming balls from corners, and once he caught the ball, very importantly, he was absolutely brilliant at distributing.

With counter-attacking such an integral part of Arsenal's play, espeically during those years, Seaman's quick, accurate yet powerful throws led to many counter-attacking goals. Why he kept a place in the starting line-up till he was 40 at Arsenal? Simply because no one was better suited for that spot.

What Did He Give to The EPL?

Opposing fans obviously will keep reminding Gunners fans of the half way line incident, and how it was his mistake which underminded England's world cup dreams in 2002. Yet, he was one of the most iconic goalkeepers in the history of the EPL.

Every football fan in the world have heard of Schmiechel, but just as much have heard of David Seaman too. He actually had the popularity and ability to start debats over whether he is better than the great Dane (even though, no he is not). He has been a key figure for the EPL as well as for his club, and of course, as well as for his country.

Biggest Shame

Just such a shame that people remember him for his errors rather than his heroics. All the penalty saves he had made, for England against Scotland, for Arsenal against Sampdoria etc.

He deservs a lot more respect than he gets. Whilst Arsenal fans obviously still loves him, the great man really should be recognised as one of the best ever goalkeepers in English footballing history.

"The greatest Wenger XI"

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