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England goalkeepers, almost as bad as their penalty takers

TAGs: england goalkepers, rob green

Being scared of the ball is never the best trait for a goalkeeper

Watching Robert Green’s interview after his almighty howler cost England a World Cup win against USA last night was almost as painful as watching the incident itself. Green went into a mumbling stream of semi-consciousness about how strange it was to be playing against so many players from the Premier League in what was supposed to be the World Cup, before putting his gargantuan gaffe down to the tournament ball being unreliable in flight – oh, and the error being one of those things that “999 times out if 1000” won’t happen to him.

Damn right they won’t, because he’ll never play for England again after allowing Clint Dempsey’s pea-roller to slip through his butterfingers and into the net. The bookmakers make the West Ham custodian a 5/1 shot to keep his place for Friday’s match against Algeria, with David James the odds-on favourite to reclaim the most cursed jersey in football – though considering James played for the team that finished bottom of the Premier League last season and is known affectionately as ‘Calamity,’ hardly fills Englishmen with confidence.

England was once a nation of goalkeepers. Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence and David Seaman all served their country with honour – although even Seaman dropped a clanger against Brazil in the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals. Since Spunky, though, England’s custodians have had enormous difficulty, erm, keeping clean sheets. Like Green, Scott Carson and Paul Robinson have also been responsible for howlers in recent times. In fact, the only thing worse than England goalkeepers is their penalty takers, who can officially lay claim to the worst shoot-out record in World Cup history, losing three out of three.

Some will criticise Fabio Capello for picking the Hammers shot-stopper instead of James or Joe Hart – but you get the feeling that they are both accidents waiting to happen too. Perhaps not Hart – but he is still young and should be protected from the poisoned chalice until the curse is somehow lifted for he is our only hope for the future.

So why is it that English goalkeepers so shit? Well, in Green’s case I would wager it might have something to do with the fact he spends most of the game wondering why there are so many Premier League players on the opposition when he would be better off actually watching the ball. As for the others. They probably only became goalkeepers because they were rubbish at playing outfield – and hoped nobody would notice that they were also pretty toilet between the sticks. And, in truth, nobody did. Or if they did they didn’t say anything, because they didn’t want to go in goal themselves.

Let’s face it, who would want to be a goalkeeper? You get very cold standing still in the rain and when you are called into action you get balls hit at you very hard or elbowed in the head by onrushing strikers coming up for crosses. Then when you do let a goal in you just get crucified for not saving it.

They say that experience is an important factor when it comes to goalkeepers but I think that’s just a load of bollocks. It’s more a case of goalkeeping being the preserve of the slightly unhinged and the largely untalented and the fact that it takes so long to actually work out whether a keeper is just a blagger that couldn’t cut it as an outfield player or a half-decent shot-stopper. England’s top-flight clubs tend to take the easy option by importing foreigners with a good reputation, rather than take the risk of trusting a chancer who has come up through the ranks, which is why there were only five English first-choice No1s playing in the Premier League last season.

So you can’t really have a go at Capello when he has Hobson’s Choice when it comes to picking the last line of defence. It’s a vicious circle. A bit like the ones these new World Cup balls take when they are fired at Rob Green.

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