When Did Goalkeepers Get Any Good?


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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6 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    ‘You see five or six saves that good every week in the Premier League’

    hehe. twaddle

  2. ursus arctos says:

    Indeed, 200, I think you went a bit overboard on the hyperbole there.

    There has been a general improvement in standard, but that is also true with regard to outfield players. I look forward to your “players used to be slow” post.

    The single largest factor in the change in standard has been the now near universal practice of individual coaching and intensive physical training programmes for keepers. That is the only thing that has allowed them to keep up with the at-times ridiculous evolution of the ball into something more appropriate for video games.

  3. 200percent says:

    I had only just got up when I wrote it, UA, and have amended it accordingly. I agree with you about the coaching – no team that I ever played for had any specialised goalkeeper training (and I played to a reasonable amateur standard), and I don’t think that any clubs at all did until relatively recently. Balls slowly turning into beach balls doesn’t help, either (they’ll be pumping them with helium, next).

    I do, however, think that, whereas the improvements in fitness and technique have been across the board in most countries, in England goalkeepers have, well, stood still somewhat.

  4. ursus arctos says:

    Well, I used to be a keeper in the Paleozoic Era, and never had specialist training.

    I also agree with you on the relative lack of progress in England. Historically, English keepers had an advantage because they were used to defending against crosses and against physical challenges from barging forwards, and it took decades for their continental counterparts to catch up. Once they did, however, the continentals continued to progress, whereas it seems as if the English have tended to stand still (or in fact regress). It may be one area in which the “revolution” in training led by managers like Wenger has not fully taken root.

    The change in the backpass rule has also played an undeniable role. Now that keepers have to be comfortable playing the ball with their feet, they need to be more complete and technical players than they used to be, and that has always been an area in which England have been relatively weak.

    The rise of the Brazilian keeper (particularly in Italy) is another indicia of the importance of being comfortable on the ball. It wasn’t that long ago that Brazilian keepers were the Scots of the Western Hemisphere.

  5. 200percent says:

    This is true about Brazilian goalkeepers – until Taffarel (the same time as the backpass rule came in), Brazil only seemed to play a goalkeeper because they had to. What was that guy’s name in 1982? Waldir Peres? He looked as if they’d picked him at random from a Sunday League match on the way there.

    I’m picking the tipping point date as 1981, which is, I reckon, the year that more goalkeepers started to wear gloves than not. Are there any goalkeepers anywhere in the world that play without gloves now? I wouldn’t have thought that there are, but I’d be delighted if there were.

  6. ursus arctos says:

    The words “Waldir Perez” (or Valdir Peres to use the proper spelling) are still used in Italy as a synonym for “dodgy keeper”.

    There must be someone who still plays without gloves, but I haven’t seen anyone for years. The MichelinMan-iaation of keeper gloves is another development. When I was playing, they were rather like what scuba divers sometimes wear; now they look a cartoon policeman directing traffic or a bratwurst fest.

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