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David Seaman: Bellingham’s goal can kickstart England’s Euros

03 Jul | BY David Seaman | MIN READ TIME |
David Seaman: Bellingham’s goal can kickstart England’s Euros

In his latest column, the former England and Arsenal goalkeeper reacts to England's victory over Slovakia in the Euro 2024 Round of 16 and previews their upcoming quarter-final against Switzerland.

Bellingham’s stunner can be a turning point

Jude Bellingham’s goal for England was incredible. When we were losing, I was thinking Gareth Southgate might resign after the game, but then the goal went in and I celebrated so loudly that I scared the hell out of my wife Frankie!

It was an amazing goal, and I thought we deserved something out of the game. Slovakia were better than a lot of people realised. They’re a really organised team and they knew they knew how to close off the passing lanes.

I think some people are taking these teams for granted, expecting them to roll over. They’re not – they’re in the Euros on merit, and they’re playing at the top of their game. Our players aren’t on top of their game, but we know we can play so much better and we’re in another quarter-final. We need to properly start getting behind the team because we’ve still got a really good chance.

I hope Bellingham’s goal will be a turning point, like Gazza’s against Scotland at Euro 96 (90 seconds after my penalty save!). It reminds people of what we’ve got in the team – players that are capable of special moments.

UEFA are investigating him for his celebration, and I think it’s a bit petty. I hope Jude will carry on being Jude. I would tell him to be himself – don’t become a robot.

Saka is not a left-back

I don’t like seeing Bukayo Saka playing at left-back. If I was the opposition, he would be my main target because he’s not a defender. If he starts at left-back, that gives teams a chance to really put him under pressure, and any decent coach will do that.

Maybe he could play on the left side of midfield, but not at left-back because we need a defender there. The other question is whether you risk Luke Shaw in a quarter-final, because he hasn’t played in such a long time.

I don’t see why Trippier has to change, unless it’s through injury. The back four has not really been the problem, and it’s not like the opposition have been getting down our left side. It was happening more against Kyle Walker on the other side.

Marc Guehi is now suspended for the quarter-final and is also dealing with a shoulder injury. I think he has been really impressive, especially with how he reacted after receiving the booking that ruled him out.

Ezri Konsa came on as a substitute against Slovakia, which shows who Gareth trusts in that position. I would imagine that will probably be the only difference with the team when we play Switzerland.

Hopefully Konsa will be as effective as Guehi has been, and at least he’s now had some game time, so it won’t be brand new to him. It’s not a worry to me at all.

Swiss midfield will test England

Switzerland have been decent at Euro 2024. In terms of organisation, they’ve been just as good as Slovakia, but then they’ve got a little bit extra. They’ve got runners from deep and then Xhaka marshalling the midfield.

He’s a great player, there’s no doubt about it. I was gutted when he left Arsenal, not just because of his play but because of the effect he has on the team. The lads love him off the pitch – he’s a gentleman, a great guy and he’s always got time for everybody. When Arsenal players got injured, he would go to see them in hospital. He was a proper leader.

I was surprised he left Arsenal because he’s a quality player and isn’t coming towards the end of his career. He went into a much harder job at Bayer Leverkusen, and then look what happened – he won the league! It hurts me as an ex-Arsenal player to see people leave the club and go on to do even better. It had me wondering why we couldn’t keep him. Good luck to him, though. He deserves it.

It will be a big test up against Xhaka and Remo Freuler, who makes those attacking runs into the box. His goal against Italy was typical of that.

Everything is going to be a test for England from now on, though. If we play our best game, we will beat Switzerland. We just need to find that conviction to be positive and play forward passes through their lines.

Costa shoot-out performance was epic

Diogo Costa. Wow.

Three penalty saves in a shoot-out and a brilliant one-on-one save against Benjamin Sesko – what a performance. Cristiano Ronaldo needs to buy him a drink!

As a goalkeeper, that was definitely my favourite individual player performance at the tournament so far. I hope Costa got the match ball, because I once made three penalty saves against Sampdoria and I forgot to get it. I was devastated.

Jan Oblak also had a great game for Slovenia and made the penalty save from Ronaldo. He’s a good goalkeeper, too, but Costa’s performance was epic.

Ronaldo’s tears just showed how much he loves the game and cares about playing for Portugal. He thought he had let them down, but he showed serious bottle to score in the shoot-out.

That side of the draw is brilliant, with Spain v Germany and France v Portugal. They are all proper games, and we’ve dodged a bullet by being on the other half of the draw.

Academy sales aren’t good for football

I don’t like to see young players moving clubs for profit and sustainability reasons. I don’t think Financial Fair Play is working, and it’s a negative on the game. It’s supposed to level things out, but why do we want to see things levelled out? We like to see success, and it’s stopping clubs from buying players they want to buy.

The last January transfer window was almost non-existent, because of FFP and the points deductions for Everton and Nottingham Forest. I don’t think it’s making the game better.

There has been talk of Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe leaving Arsenal, and for me it hurts when homegrown players leave the club. They aren’t getting game time, so they’re going to be frustrated, and fans will be frustrated if they leave because they love singing songs for homegrown players.

When the academy is successful, it means something at every level of the club. When I coach at Arsenal, I see what the youth players go through to get to this level, and then when they get into the first team it’s a celebration for the entire club.

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David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.

David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.