Saturday, August 19, 2006

Goalkeeping breed...still crazy after all these years

Goalkeeping breed…still crazy after all these years
Beware of goalkeepers. I’ve noticed throughout my days that they tend to be weird people. Why? Firstly, they are a one-off. Think about it. Compared with everyone else in the team, they have their own rules. So in that respect they are a bit like the spoilt kid who gets singled out by the rest of the class for special treatment.

But I think the way you become a ‘keeper plays a part, too. Let’s be honest, most goalkeepers end up between the sticks because they are rubbish everywhere else on the pitch, and they ‘end up’ there says it all. Who starts off actually wanting to be a goalkeeper? Most kids dream of being strikers- I certainly started up front.

There is definitely a particular kind of mindset required to do the job of a ‘keeper and that’s certainly a contributing factor to the weirdness. For starters, you basically have to be prepared to stick your head where everyone puts their feet and for that you have either to be pretty brave or completely mental. Then there is the pressure. If a striker doesn’t do his job properly and misses an open goal, it soon gets forgotten. But the equivalent mistake for a goalkeeper means he’s conceded and the whole world’s on his back. Goalkeepers can’t get away with mistakes like anyone else can.

But it would be wrong to say that they are all the same because there are different kinds of weirdness among the goalkeeping ranks of this world. Sometimes they can be the clowns of the dressing-room, the ones always getting into trouble and responsible for all pranks. Then you get the more mysterious ones who are harder to judge. These kind aren’t usually very outgoing and don’t say much. Then something goes in their heads and they suddenly have an outburst and go a bit crazy.

In the next category are the ones who like to see themselves as super-stars. Rene Higuita is a great example- the guy with the mullet who played for Columbia in the 1990s and did that ridiculous overhead kick/save thing against England. Bruce Grobbelaar with all of his dribbling antics is another example. A special mention must be given to Jorge Campos, the Mexican custodian. He is famous for all those psychedelic and vile kits. However, he had the last laugh as he made his team mates wear his custom made pink kits for his farewell match.

Then you have got the hard men, the ones who constantly want to show everyone how fearsome they are, and this is where Jens Lehmann comes into play. On the subject of German hard-men ‘keepers, they can also claim responsibility for Harald Schumacher. Now there is a nutcase. He should been charge with attempted murder for that challenge on Patrick Battison, of France, in the ’82 World Cup semi-final. And having put himself on the map with that little episode, he then brought on a book after he retired, talking about things such as the importance of sex for players during big international tournaments. Only a goalkeeper…