James: I was told I might play up front at half-time!

15 May 2019

Former Man City goalkeeper recalls his outing as a striker on the final day of 2004/05

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Manchester City strikers have made memorable contributions on the final day of Premier League campaigns.

Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero all had key roles in the famous 2011/12 title triumph, and Aguero struck again as City won the Premier League Trophy for the fourth time at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

Former goalkeeper David James can also be listed among the players who have memorably played up front for the club at the season's climax and sought a decisive goal, on this very day in 2005.

Stuart Pearce’s side needed a home win over Middlesbrough on 15 May to leapfrog their visitors and claim a UEFA Cup place, but were drawing 1-1 in the 86th minute.

Pearce decided to move James up front, hoping his goalkeeper's height and aerial ability would unsettle Boro, while introducing his No 2 custodian Nicky Weaver in place of midfielder Claudio Reyna.

'I won every header'

James went on to have seven touches, make four passes and commit two fouls, with no shots.

"I was told at half-time that it might happen," he says. "I wasn't told the day before, which would have been better. Then I would have practised my touch a little bit more.

"I won every header. I missed every volley. I think I fouled every Middlesbrough player bar Mark Schwarzer."

While James gives his brief spell in the opposition box a mixed review, Pearce may have felt his surprising decision was justified when Man City won a penalty in stoppage time.

However, Schwarzer denied Robbie Fowler from the spot and secured Middlesbrough's place in Europe.

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