Football: Is Seaman still a safe keeper?

World Cup winner Sepp Maier is regarded as the greatest German goalkeeper of all time. As a top coach, he has been studying Saturday's No.1 rivals and, here, makes it clear he no longer rates England's David Seaman

Perhaps David Seaman could have claimed to be the best goalkeeper in the world five years ago.

When England were hosts of Euro 96, he was head and shoulders above the rest. He was truly excellent, an outstanding keeper.

Unfortunately for him and for England, times have changed.

For example, the game against Germany at Wembley last year was important for both teams. But we won it 1-0 and that was because of a mistake by Seaman.

In Germany we hadn't been expecting to win, but it gave us a great start in the group - and all because of that mistake.

Dietmar Hamann hit the ball from more than 30 yards out, perhaps 35 yards out. Seaman reacted way too late. That was the problem.

I honestly think I could have saved the shot myself, at my age - and I'm 57!

It's difficult for me to say whether Seaman is still England's best goalkeeper or even whether he should still be in the England team.

I can't really judge the young keepers in England as I don't know them that well. But I know that in Germany we have quite a few young ones coming through. That used to be the case in England, I don't know if it is now.

If you like, we could lend you one for the game on Saturday!

For me, results count when it comes to judging a player's standing.

If you want to be considered world class, you have to win the Champions League, a European Championship or a string of national league championships.

That's what confirms your status, no matter what position you play. It simply does not help if you put in good performances but don't win anything.

At Bayern Munich, I'm coach to the man I believe is the best goalkeeper in the world - Oliver Kahn.

I don't think Seaman has the same standing in the game. Kahn has played so many internationals and Champions League games and he is just on a higher level than Seaman. I've worked with him for eight years and I should know.

For the past three or four seasons, he has been the best around. He did have a bad time a few years back, but he came through that and is as good as ever.

I also think the best strikers in the world rate him highly. Kahn intimidates them and that puts them off when they play against him.

He doesn't always look that big when you see him away from the field. But you should see him in the dressing room. His physique is incredible.

One of the great things about Kahn is his preparation. These days, you can do your homework thoroughly because you see all the top players on the TV. In my day - in the 1970s and 1980s - it wasn't like that. It was easy for a striker to surprise you.

Today that's unlikely. For example, the only way that Michael Owen will surprise Kahn is if he manages to score against him! I doubt that will happen.

Oliver's mentality is typically German. He doesn't want glory. He is happy to leave that to the strikers. He just wants to be as good as he possibly can at his task. He is a perfectionist.

As I look forward to Saturday's game, the German people don't need to be too excited. Everybody knows their team will win.

Of course, I'm joking - it's impossible to be that certain in football. But we're certainly in very good shape.

You could see that when we beat Hungary 5 -2 recently. Perhaps a year ago, England would have had a very good chance because the German team was at a real low, probably the lowest it's ever been. Now it's different.

England may well qualify for the World Cup, in fact I hope they do. But they will not qualify at Germany's expense. They will have to do it through the play-offs.

If they win the home matches against Greece and Albania, they will finish second behind Germany.

I will be at the game on Saturday and if we draw we're happy.

That will be good enough for us.

SEPP MAIER was talking to IAN LADYMAN

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