TONY LEEN: James a picture book pro

LIKE him or scoff at his, shall we say idiosyncrasies (Caribbean cocktail of hair colours, for starters), no-one can ever describe David James as your typical Premier League half-wit.

While he frequently delves into his locker of howlers, earning him the Calamity James sobriquet, James has proved there’s more going on above his eyebrows than a tongs and a bottle of dye. When he refers to ‘artists’, he ain’t necessarily talking about England pal Wazza, who contributed in no small way to James’ miserable afternoon on Saturday.

“Salvador Dali is one. He’s technically superb. Dali can match Renaissance art of Michelangelo, but he also does the abstract. Simply put, Dali is your Wayne Rooney equivalent: he can do the technical stuff but he can also do a bit more. He also invested meaning and emotion into his paintings.”

James’s gesture last week in turning his back on £3m was all the more absurd in a world where weekly wage slips come in scores of thousands. Yes, he needs to play and yes, he’s not short of a bob, but canceling a £3m annual contract to ensure the parlous state of Pompey did not turn terminal is surely worthy of mention – and respect.

James waived a 12-month extension on his £60,000 a week contract that would kick in after 25 appearances this season. He was only nine games from that mark when he instructed the Premier League to negotiate releasing his and Portsmouth obligations to the deal. His decision was influenced by the desire for a World Cup starting berth – Portsmouth would have left him kicking his heels, simply because they’d have no choice. But when you see others (Sol Campbell, hardly short of a bob) suing Pompey, one is quickly jarred back to the real world of footballers and their agents.

James has his own reasons for his decision, but they’re not all motivated by money. For that much, let’s be thankful.


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