On this day in 2004: David Seaman retires from football

Former England goalkeeper David Seaman announced his retirement from football on this day in 2004.

After more than 1,000 professional matches and 75 caps for England, ‘Safe Hands’ called time on a career in which he won three league titles, four FA Cups, the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, with all of those honours coming with Arsenal.

Sadly for Seaman, his career did not get the swansong it deserved – his final appearance, for Manchester City against Portsmouth, lasted only 13 minutes before he was forced off with a recurrence of a long-standing shoulder problem.

Arsenal v Southampton – FA Cup Final
David Seaman won three league titles and lifted the FA Cup four times during his career with Arsenal (Rui Vieira/PA)

City were his fifth professional club – after signing for Leeds as a youth player he went on to Peterborough, Birmingham and QPR before George Graham brought him to Arsenal in 1990.

In his first season at Highbury, Seaman played a key role in Arsenal regaining the Division One league title, conceding only 18 goals in 38 league games, and he was a key part of the Gunners’ miserly defence under Graham.

Further success followed in 1993 with the FA and League Cup double, followed by the European Cup Winners’ Cup a year later during a period that saw Seaman establish himself as England’s number one under Terry Venables.

Graham was sacked in 1995 but Seaman continued to excel under his replacement Arsene Wenger – winning Premier League and FA Cup doubles in 1998 and 2002.

Kevin Keegan Manchester City
David Seaman signed for Kevin Keegan at Manchester City after leaving Arsenal but injuries meant he did not finish the season (Martin Rickett/PA)

But 2002 also saw Seaman embarrassed at the World Cup, caught off his line by Ronaldinho’s long-range free-kick, and he would soon lose his England place to David James.

His days with Arsenal were numbered too – 2002-03 was his last campaign with the Gunners but it ended well as he made an incredible save to deny Sheffield United’s Paul Peschisolido in the FA Cup semi-finals as Arsenal went on to the lift the trophy again.

Seaman was released at the end of the season and was snapped up by Kevin Keegan at Manchester City but struggled with injuries, forcing him to announce his retirement at the age of 40.