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A New Era For Goalkeepers

Tuesday 13th March 2012
The loneliest, most outcast position on the football pitch is the goalkeeper. One in a team, two on the pitch, both modelling a fashion trend for all other participants with their differing and unique style of kit. A position seldom understood by most critics and fans alike. The last line of defence, the commander, the organiser. The number one priority for the number one jersey is to stop the ball hitting the back of the net. Or is it?

A keeper is frequently scrutinised for ‘making a meal' out of a shot with a ‘save for the cameras'. But is it not just an old-fashioned view to suggest goalkeepers must catch everything? In Britain, the norm is to build traditional goalkeepers who understand the ‘basics'. But since footballs have become lighter, faster and more ferocious when struck with intent and venom, the England national team has struggled to establish a frequent number one, until Joe Hart.

Hart is a different breed of English goalkeepers, with his style acknowledging continental styles in stance and execution.

Before Hart, and still today, when asked who the best goalkeeper in the world is, not many people would look far past Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid shot-stopper, who received his debut call-up to the first team aged 16, leads the way for aspiring goalkeepers due to his all-round ability. The similarity between Hart and Casillas is their stance and shot-stopping technique, which others are slowly beginning to replicate. Their lower stance allows them to be able to move quicker with a lower centre of gravity and the bent knees make it easier to jump higher and dive further.

The aforementioned goalkeepers also show a great deal more respect for the modern football by pushing and, perhaps more importantly, kicking shots away, with Hart in particular replicating the big spread of the body demonstrated by the legendary Peter Schmeichel. Goalkeepers should not be afraid to kick the ball away.

Too many youngsters observed concede goals frequently through trying to make the ‘correct' save with the perfect collapsing technique. Invariably, the ball flies beneath them before they can ground their body whereas an outstretched leg can prevent their side conceding. A goalkeepers strongest attribute is their instinct. Despite this, it still appears that youngsters are being coached how to catch the ball instead of saving it, the latter being the number one priority for the number one jersey.
Luke Emson

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