On this day: Legend leaps to Pompey keeper's defence

England goalkeeper David James and France's Nicolas Anelka lie on the ground after David James gave awayt a penalty
England goalkeeper David James and France's Nicolas Anelka lie on the ground after David James gave awayt a penalty
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On this day in 2008, Alan Knight told the critics: lay off David James.

The Pompey legend rushed to the defence of James after he was blamed for England’s defeat to France.

James was slammed for bringing Nicolas Anelka down and conceding the penalty which saw Fabio Capello’s men slip to a 1-0 loss.

Speaking to The News at the time, Knight moved to support the 37-year-old, with the knives being sharpened for the Blues keeper.

He cleared James of any blame for the goal, and stated people should stop hounding the Fratton Park No1, who had been in such outstanding form for his club.

Knight said: ‘David should not be coming in for all the stick he has been getting.

‘I don’t see it as being his mistake for the penalty. It is something which happens.

‘The defence have been caught by the ball, Nicolas Anelka is lightning quick.

‘David is committed and got a touch on Anelka. It’s one of those things.

‘It is bang out of order to call it a “calamity” and blame David for it.

‘I can’t see how it is a goalkeeping mistake.

‘David gets grief. People are always going to give him grief. It’s the way of the world unfortunately.

‘He has been erratic in the past as he admits, and that will haunt him.

'Mud sticks. But the reality is that was years ago.

‘People also want to criticise him for his age and look to younger keepers.

‘He is the best English keeper in the business and has been showing everyone that with his form for the past season-and-a-half.’

Knight also criticised the timing of the friendly, coming at such a crucial time in the season.

He added: ‘I don’t know why the game was played in the first place.

‘It is an important time for clubs. Look at us going for Europe and in the Cup semi final. We don’t need it.

‘All players want to do is get through the game unharmed.

‘It would make sense if we were involved in the European Championships this summer. But we are just cannon fodder for other teams.’