Seaman abandons Arsenal for regular City life

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The Independent Football

David Seaman completed his much-touted move to Manchester City yesterday - and then set his sights on the England place that Sven Goran Eriksson insists can still be the 39-year-old's to win back.

After 13 years at Arsenal, the Yorkshire-born goalkeeper has followed Peter Schmeichel, Nicolas Anelka, Marc-Vivien Foé and Robbie Fowler through the entrance door of a club languishing midway in the First Division 18 months ago.

Seaman's decision to leave the Gunners, even though he had the offer of a one-year contract and a coaching role from the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, confirms Kevin Keegan's pulling power, plus the added attraction of a new stadium and European football, thanks to Uefa's Fair Play League. But ultimately it is the desire to keep playing which made Seaman turn his back on Highbury and sign a one-year deal with City.

"I want at least one more season of guaranteed first-team football in the Premiership and I honestly feel I am as fit as I have ever been," said Seaman, who played his 1,000th club and international match last season.

"I have had 13 fantastic years at Arsenal, winning more trophies than I could ever have hoped for. I have given this move an enormous amount of thought and the time is right to move on to a new challenge."

His last game for Arsenal was last month's FA Cup final when Arsenal beat Southampton 1-0 with Seaman - captain for the day - making a fine save in the match's closing stages.

Seaman started his career as an apprentice with Leeds and went on to play for Peterborough, Birmingham City and Queen's Park Rangers. In 1990 he moved to Arsenal for £1.3m pounds, making him the most expensive goalkeeper in British football at the time and the north London side's first million pound player.

He won the league title in his first season at Highbury and went on to help Arsenal win the league and FA Cup Double twice, in 1998 and 2002.

Seaman has won international 75 caps. However, fans blamed him for the 2002 World Cup quarter-final 2-1 defeat by Brazil when he allowed a free kick from Ronaldinho to drift over his head into the net. More criticism followed last October after he conceded a goal direct from a corner in England's 2-2 draw with Macedonia in a Euro 2004 qualifier last October.

This year, he was left out of the England squad for three games including Tuesday's friendly win at Leicester over Serbia and Montenegro and it is thought that West Ham's David James is now regarded as the national team's No 1.

Now his immediate future is resolved, he will be targeting a return to Eriksson's England squad and will try to re-establish himself in time for next summer's European Championships in Portugal.

Eriksson confirmed that Seaman would still be a candidate if he is playing regular first-team football and welcomed his positive stance of believing that he can still play for his country.

"I'm happy if he thinks he can still be the England goalkeeper next summer. That's up to him - and it's up to me to judge who is the best keeper.

"I told him when he wasn't picked for these three games that if he goes on playing Premiership or First Division football he would be treated just as all the others."

Rejecting any worries about Seaman's age, the Manchester City chairman, John Wardle, said the deal had taken only "three or four days" once the keeper's availability had been confirmed.

Seaman will be joined at City's new 48,000-capacity Eastlands home by another new face in the experienced Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Tarnat, who flew in yesterday to sign a one-year contract after six years and a host of trophies with the German champions. Both men have arrived on Bosman transfers, meaning there should still be some cash left in an estimated £5m transfer fund, but the spending is not expected to start until Keegan returns from holiday at the end of the month.

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