Where are the colourful keepers?
GOALKEEPERS are often said to be ‘crazy’. In the past, they also used to have a big personality. Being a No.1 isn’t for everyone. Every child gets asked when they start to play football what position they wish to play. Generally, goalkeeper is quite far down the list.
This notion was still the case when I was a youngster back in the mid-90s. However, with me it was a different story - the larger-than-life presence of those between the sticks intrigued me more.
Back in the 90s, goalies had their own aura, in part helped by the colourful and well-padded jerseys they wore.Was it a coincidence that those colourful tops were filled by colourful characters?
There are four goalies from this era who inspired me – an aspiring goalkeeper during park kick-arounds until I realised the growth spurt was not happening. I will go into greater detail on them shortly…
As well as opting to go in goal in park matches, my father would take me to various parks to take shots at me.
Wearing various goalie jerseys, I would pretend to be certain keepers. Maybe it was just an illusion, but this seemed to improve my shotstopping abilities.
In the nineties, I would pretend to be the likes of Mark Bosnich, Rene Higuita, Peter Schmeichel and Andreas Kopke. The next four, however, are the ones that I would imitate the most and for that deserve a brief profile:
With 44 caps for France, I was overcome with his performances at Euro 96 and his brief 12 appearances for West Ham in 1998. His broad physique yet amazing agility was easy on the eye. It was very rare you saw Lama wearing shorts between the sticks. He was more recognised with tracksuit bottoms, something else which has vanished from the modern game. Apart from that brief spell with the Hammers, the rest of his career was spent in France with spells at Lille, Metz and PSG (two spells). He managed two goals in his pro career and was crowned French Player of the Year in 1994. Since retiring, he has taken up coaching duties, even coaching the Kenyan national team.
What an obscure yet endearing presence this man had. If you watch a reel of some of the better goals from the 90s, quite a few flew past the Russian. He would often not even attempt to dive for efforts he knew were beyond him – see
Jurgen Klinsmann's goal against him at Euro 96.
His career started in 1982 with Torpedo Moscow and he then had a stint with Dynamo Moscow.
He enjoyed a season at Russian giants CSKA Moscow before being snapped up by Chelsea, where he would spend seven years, amassing 118 league appearances. He had three years at Celtic, making only eight league starts, before turning out for Non-League Hornchurch.
At international level, he played for the USSR (six caps), CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States (nine caps) and Russia (23 caps).
He is currently the goalkeeping coach at Hemel Hempstead Town.
His rubber-legged penalty heroics helped Liverpool win the European Cup in 1984.
One of the first sweeper-keepers, sometimes you could be mistaken for believing he was an outfield player.
His trophy-laden 13-year career at Liverpool is what defined him, although he was later dogged by match-fixing claims (he was eventually cleared in court).
Always entertaining, he was spotted while on loan at Crewe from Vancouver Whitecaps.
After the Reds, he went on to Southampton and Plymouth before doing the rounds late on in his career.
A Zimbabwe international and a goalkeeper dripping with personality and charisma.
Another keeper I was ridiculed for admiring, mainly because of the same match-fixing allegations that Grobbelaar faced (Segers was also cleared), but also for his eight-year affiliation with the 'ugly but lovable' Crazy Gang of Wimbledon. Started his career at PSV Eindhoven, one of Holland’s most prestigious clubs, before joining Nottingham Forest. After Wimbledon, he would make sporadic appearances for both Wolves and Spurs before concentrating on coaching. Ended up as a goalkeeping coach at both Tottenham and Fulham. I feel keepers used to command a certain respect, they had something special. In the Premier League era, the best keepers, for me, were the ones from the 90s. Keepers now don’t have what they had. Sadly, a number of things are disappearing. Goalkeeper jerseys are now just long-sleeved shirts with no padding, most keepers have to fit the six foot-plus athlete physique and the days of a scruffy Neville Southall between the sticks have died. In addition, tracksuit bottoms have vanished from the keeper’s outfit and so too have the caps to keep the sun from their eyes. I’m trying to do my bit to keep old traditions alive. Playing in goal at five-a-sides on Monday nights, I wear the trackie bottoms and still hope to one day pull out a Higuita scorpion kick. I live in hope.
Bruce Grobbelaar Hans Segers Dmitri Kharine