James graft rewarded by extension of contract

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The England goalkeeper David James has signed a new contract at Portsmouth which will see him into his 40th year.

James, who turns 38 in August having just returned to the national side, is set to fulfil the confident prediction of the Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, who said: "He's so fit, and so good, he will play on well into his forties.

"For me, he's been the top keeper in the country for some time and shows no sign of giving up. The way he trains you would think he is a teenager and there is not an ounce of surplus on his fantastic physique.

"He's one of the best signings we've made at this club and I'm delighted to have him."

In effect, James has penned a one-year extension to a new two-year deal he recently signed. It will keep him at Portsmouth until the end of the 2009-10 campaign – with an option of a further extension after that.

James appeared at a Football Association Roadshow event at Fratton Park on Tuesday night as a guest panelist alongside new FA independent chairman Lord Triesman, head of football development Trevor Brooking and England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce.

James, who has also played for Watford, Liverpool, West Ham, Aston Villa and Manchester City, clocking up more than 500 Premier League appearances, said: "I'm very happy to have made this extra commitment to Portsmouth. It has been a fantastic club for me."

After setting a new Premier League record for shut-outs in the match against Reading last season, taking his total of clean sheets to 155 ahead of last night's meeting with Birmingham City, James is back in favour with England after being recalled by new manager Fabio Capello for last month's friendly win over Switzerland.

He is on the verge of helping Portsmouth complete one of the greatest seasons in their history after proving unbeatable in Saturday's shock 1-0 win at Manchester United, which helped the South coast club into next month's FA Cup semi-finals.

James told Pompey TV: "It's been a tremendous week and I'm delighted to get the opportunity to sign a new contract. I'm really enjoying being in a fantastic environment at Pompey and I never envisaged the club being in this position when I joined."

James, who signed from City for £1.5m in August 2006, has been in top form this season – so much so that the former England manager Steve McClaren recalled him for his 35th cap as a substitute against Germany after a gap of nearly 14 months out of the national squad.

Capello made it 36 against the Swiss after McClaren paid the price for Euro 2008 failure – including not keeping faith with James for the vital qualifiers – with his departure from the international scene.

Football's grapevine suggest James will have to make way for England's next friendly against France in two weeks to give Joe Hart, who has had a good season at Manchester City, a chance to impress at senior level but the Portsmouth player has insisted he will be ready for duty at the highest level as long as he is needed.

Comments