ENGLAND'S former goalkeeper came face to face with the world's largest rodent in Marlow this week.

David Seaman was taken by surprise when, as he fished by The Compleat Angler Hotel on the Thames, the creature, native to South America, appeared right next to him.

The retired footballer, a member of Thames Valley Angling Association, regularly fishes at the site.

While current England number one Joe Hart prepared to shut out Ukraine in a crucial World Cup qualifier, the country's former top stopper was tasked with a different kind of international duty, faced with the furry foreigner.

Capybaras are the largest rodents on the planet, weighing from 35 to 66 kg and standing up to 0.6 metres at the shoulder, with a length of about 1.2 metres.

Seaman has a string of impressive catches to his name but had never come across an aquatic beast so strange.

He said: "It was just sat there, not afraid of me so I took out my phone and captured a few shots of it. I didn’t have a clue what it was, but it was as big as a sheep and I thought if it were to have a go it would take me down."

High Wycombe resident Jeff Woodhouse, secretary of the angling organisation, came across the creature last night while fishing at the site, and fed it bread, watched by diners at the hotel.

He said he had once come across a large coypu along the bank while fishing in Milton Keynes.

He said: "However, apart from the odd mink, one of which once jumped over my outstretched feet whilst fishing at the weir, I’ve not heard of anything stranger."

The capybara escaped from a private sanctuary at the McAlpine's Fawley Hill estate, in May.

It was recaptured but then escaped again and was spotted at Henley Regatta in July. It has been on the loose ever since.

Last week pictures of the creature in Cookham and Bourne End were posted on Twitter.

Lady Judi McAlpine said: "We have daily bulletins. He has taken possession of the river between Cookham Dean and Marsh Lock.

"He is eating everyone's windfalls and is clearly happy as a Capi can be. "Except of course that he may now have noticed that there are no girls out there. Meanwhile, his wife waits patiently.

"There is no point in our catching him again. We don't cage our animals and he would just be over the fence and back to the river. We really believe he will be back when it gets colder. If he shows any signs of stress we will be there like a shot with our big net and apples.

"We will play it day by day. He does like human company and he has taken to sitting by fishermen at night, just watching the river with them - and perhaps sharing their sandwiches?"

The capybara has had another celebrity encounter, she revealed. Mike Read, the DJ, has been feeding him animal apples in his garden.

She asked anyone who spots the capybara to call the estate, rather than the RSPCA.