He's so calm, like all of the greats, and is still at his best, insists Howe

by IVAN SPECK, Daily Mail

England's young players will swallow every word of advice Sven Goran Eriksson can give them as they near Munich's Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

They will take in the last-minute advice from the Swede's right-hand men, Steve McClaren and Sammy Lee.

Then they will look around the dressing room and focus on David Seaman. If they need someone to ease their nerves, England's goalkeeper is that man.

And that is just one of the reasons why Don Howe, who has coached Seaman for Arsenal and England over the last decade, dismissed Sepp Maier's savage criticism of the Englishman.

Howe finds the answer to the question about what Seaman will bring to the England dressing room in a single word.

'Calmness,' Howe told Sportsmail. 'He's one of the most steady influences you can find. He never gets excited, never looks as though he's got nerves. You can never look across at him and say, "aye, aye, he looks a bit uptight".

'He's calm in any situation. That's one of his qualities and something that all of the great keepers have. Gordon Banks was the same.

'Whatever has happened, I've never seen David in any way lose his temper. He's a terrific influence. That will be vital before the Germany match.

'The younger players will look at him before the game. He won't say a lot to them. He'll just turn to them individually and say, "come on, son, we know you can do it". That will be enough.'

Doubts have been raised over Seaman's ability to perform at World Cup level at the age of 37. Critics like Maier point to Dietmar Hamann's winner for Germany at Wembley last October, others to the quick Ian Harte free-kick which caught him still organising the Arsenal wall against Leeds nine days ago.

The pony-tailed hair-style and the moustache are outdated. So is Seaman, they argue.

Such comments, however, receive short shrift from Howe, who still works at Arsenal.

He added: 'I still think David's at his best. The thing I'm impressed with this season is that he's working well. He came back for pre-season and really worked hard.

'Sometimes the older players don't do what they ought to in training. They haven't got the same enthusiasm. Not David.

'I'm absolutely certain that the arrival of Richard Wright at the club has been a gee-up for David. He knows now that there can be no messing about.

'What David will also bring in Munich is his concentration. The great keepers can be out of the game, not touch the ball for 20 minutes but when there's a shot or a header coming in, they make a save. Then they don't touch it again for 20 minutes. David's good at that.'

Martin Keown has played more than 300 games in front of the keeper for both club and country and Maier's criticism brought an instant response from the central defender who misses Saturday's game through injury.

Keown said: 'In my opinion David Seaman is still the best goalkeeper we have. If he's picked for the Germany game, I'm quite sure he'll prove Sepp wrong.

'For a fellow goalkeeper to say he would have made that save against Hamann's shot is a bit optimistic to say the very least.

'Has Sepp seen the save he made in the last few minutes from Christian Dailly's header against Scotland when we qualified for Euro 2000?'

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