London 2012: Olympic football is for amateurs - David Seaman

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter

Olympic football should be played by amateur footballers, not professionals, according to former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.

Seaman, who retired in 2004 with 75 England caps, told BBC Sport: "If you get the option it's a big decision.

"Obviously representing Great Britain would be a massive honour, but I was a professional for 22 years and I don't think I would have done it."

Prior to 1984, men's Olympic football was only played by amateur players.

The GB men's team will face Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay in the group phase, with the women's side facing equally tricky fixtures against New Zealand, Cameroon and Brazil.

The current regulations stipulating that male competitors must be under 23, with three over-age players allowed per squad, came in at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

David Beckham has been heavily linked with one of those over-age Team GB places and was included in a revised short-list of 80 players released last week.

Seaman, however, is a fan of the old traditions.

"I don't think it's for professional footballers - I've always felt it should be left to the amateurs and I'll stand by that."

He is, however, a big fan of other Olympic sports.

Seaman's girlfriend Frankie Poultney, a professional ice-dancer whom he met on the TV programme 'Dancing on Ice', has been working with the GB synchronised swimming team as they prepare for their appearance at the London Games.

"I'm massively impressed," said Seaman.

"If you realise what they go through - the strength they have, and the finesse as well - it's fantastic and I'll tell anyone to go and watch it.

"The girls train really hard and put all of their effort into it and it looks great."

Seaman, who played at two World Cups for England, says he does enjoy watching many Olympic sports and is looking forward to London 2012.external-link

"The atmosphere is going to be similar to a World Cup for me, which was the ultimate," said Seaman.

"The Olympic Games is the ultimate for the athletes and it's a great thing to be involved in.

"I don't know if I'll be able to get a ticket - I'll see what I can do - but it's a great time for the country."