Is an­other golden era pos­si­ble?

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

AS THE Premier League at­tracts the best play­ers from around the world cap­ti­vated by the, let’s be hon­est, huge sack­fuls of cash on of­fer, Bri­tish goal­keep­ers have largely dis­ap­peared from sight.

Nowa­days we marvel at the dis­plays of keep­ers like Arse­nal’s Petr Cech (Czech Re­pub­lic), Manch­ester United’s David de Gea (Spain) and Tot­ten­ham’s Hugo Lloris (France).

It’s a re­mark­able change from a few decades ago when we felt, per­haps a touch ar­ro­gantly, that we pro­duced the best goal­keep­ers in the world. The likes of Eng­land trio Gor­don Banks, Peter Shilton and Ray Cle­mence and North­ern Ire­land’s Pat Jen­nings were gen­uinely world-class.

But we also had great strength-in-depth. I re­cently stum­bled upon a Foot­ball 79 Panini sticker al­bum and I started to look through the keep­ers at all the Divi­sion One (those were the days) clubs and it made for im­pres­sive read­ing. Per­haps you will re­call some of the fol­low­ing:

Arse­nal – Pat Jen­nings, As­ton Villa – Jimmy Rim­mer, Birm­ing­ham City – Neil Free­man, Bolton – Jim McDon­agh, Bris­tol City – John Shaw, Chelsea – Peter Bonetti,

Coven­try City – Jim

Blyth, Derby County – John Mid­dle­ton, Ever­ton – Ge­orge Wood, Ip­swich Town – Paul Cooper, Leeds United – David Ste­wart, Liverpool – Ray Cle­mence, Manch­ester City – Joe Cor­ri­gan,

Manch­ester United – Paddy Roche, Mid­dles­brough – Jim Ste­wart,

Nor­wich City – Kevin Kee­lan, Not­ting­ham

For­est – Peter Shilton, QPR – Phil Parkes,

Southamp­ton – Peter Wells, Tot­ten­ham – Barry Daines, West Brom – Tony God­den, Wolves – Paul Brad­shaw.

Of those 22 keep­ers, the only one born out­side the Uk or the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land was Nor­wich’s Kee­lan (born in In­dia).

At that time, for­eign play­ers were few and far be­tween. Tot­ten­ham had the Ar­gen­tinian pair of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, while Dutch duo Frans Thi­jssen and Arnold Muhren shone at Ip­swich.

In the Premier League era, the flood­gates have opened to for­eign play­ers – and home­grown goal­keep­ers have suf­fered more than most. In the Mer­lin’s Premier League 2016 sticker al­bum, there are just a hand­ful of Bri­tish keep­ers – Crys­tal Palace’s Wayne Hen­nessey, Manch­ester City’s Joe Hart, Nor­wich’s John Ruddy, Stoke’s Jack But­land and West Brom’s Ben Foster.

Is it the case that we’re just not pro­duc­ing the same qual­ity of goal­keep­ers as be­fore? If so, why is that? Is the tal­ent not there, is there a lack of will­ing­ness by young boys to put the hard graft in, do they all want to be strik­ers, are par­ents wor­ried their sons will get in­jured?

Is it sim­ply that there is much more com­pe­ti­tion now and, there­fore, only the very best will rise to the top?

Or is it that the tal­ent is still there, but our young goal­keep­ers aren’t be­ing given a chance? Is the price of do­mes­tic goal­keep­ers too high or do man­agers un­der pres­sure for re­sults sim­ply de­cide to get an ex­pe­ri­enced for­eign keeper rather than risk a young ’un from here?

One per­son who knows a thing or two about goal­keep­ers is Mick Payne. The 61year-old has been coach­ing keep­ers for the last four decades and is a qual­i­fied UEFA A Li­cence goal­keep­ing coach.

He has coached and worked with the likes of Bob Wil­son, Pat Jen­nings, Tony Roberts, David Stock­dale, David But­ton, Chris Day and Mar­cus Bet­tinelli. He’s also been the Eng­land Non-League team, Eng­land C, goal­keep­ing coach for the last decade.

“I do be­lieve we still have the tal­ent, but it’s been sti­fled,” he said. “Man­agers are very re­luc­tant to put young goal­keep­ers in be­cause their jobs are on the line. They want some­one ex­pe­ri­enced in goal, but how do

Toto Schillaci

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