Former England player lauds ex-Gunner as one of the ‘Greats’
Nigel Martyn, the first £1 million goalkeeper in British football, was a big name in club football throughout the nineties and early noughties.
The England stopper was an instrumental figure for Leeds United putting in man of the match displays in Europe as Leeds reached successive European semi-finals, the UEFA Cup in 1999 / 2000 and then the Champions League in 2000 /01.
However, his impressive performances at club level did not prevent him from being a peripheral figure in the England set up for much of his career.
Martyn himself has since revealed that he believes that Arsenal legend, David Seaman, was the reason why.
Dave was a very good goalkeeper,” says Martyn. “I’d put him in with the likes of Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. They were the real three greats that we’ve had, and the rest of us haven’t managed to get to the heights that they’ve achieved.
“Since Dave, we’ve had many good goalkeepers, but none in his class. I definitely think if I’d come along a little bit later then there would have been more opportunity. That’s life.”
Even if Martyn didn’t get the opportunity to play for England at a major tournament, he relished the time he spent with the national team.
“It is a proud moment getting selected, and you’re keen to impress in training and be ready,” he says in talking to football correspondent from Betway Insider.
“That’s the thing you have to be. Nobody wishes injury or a sending off or illness or anything on anybody else, but these things can happen.”
“While we were out there we trained really hard,” he says. “The two other goalkeepers – myself and Tim Flowers in ‘98, and myself and David James in ’02 – probably trained harder than just about anybody else.”
England crashed out of the latter tournament after a 2-1 quarter final defeat to Brazil where Seaman was caught out by a Ronaldinho cross-cum-shout.
Martyn recalls that himself and other team mates were quick to rally round their number one – who had up to this point only conceded one goal in England’s four games.
“He was visibly upset after the game,” says Martyn.
“It was a case of putting an arm round him and telling him what a great ‘keeper he was. All the things that you would expect to be said were said by many people, because he had the respect of the whole squad.”