The Goalkeeper: More than a Lonely Position at the Back of the Field

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 30th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2wm_tdm7/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (Soccer)

You see him (or her) right at the back of the field, the last line of defence, the last bastion of hope for the team and often the loneliest place on the planet, yet the goalkeeper is the rock upon which the rest of the team is built. You should remember that the goalkeeper is number 1 for a reason.

The Goalkeeper

There is a stereotype about goalkeeping which is that you pick the largest, laziest kid in the class and put them between the posts, they won't have much to do but when they do hopefully their size will be enough to stop the ball, they spend most of their time leaning on the goalposts. Sadly this is the wrong way to view this position on the football (or soccer) field, the goalkeeper is the rock upon which the rest of the team is built, they should almost be the first player selected, when they are probably the last.

I have played as goalkeeper all of my life and most teams find it surprising when someone joins the team who wants to play in goal, wants to stand in the path of a ball kicked at 75 mph or more, but goalkeeping isn't about being the fat boy from school, a good keeper is able to psychoanalyse the opponents, particularly the strikers and watch for their moves, a good keeper will organise their defence to ensure they are effective because ninety percent of the time the reason the other team fails to score is because of how organised the defence is, but of course defence starts the second the opposing team wins the football and it involves every player on the team, including the most hungry goal scorer; do it right and the team works like a well oiled machine and the goalkeeper should never have to touch the ball, do it wrong and your jersey will be covered in mud and you go home feeling bad two goals against or worse.

Truth is a good striker can put the ball into the net 80% of the time, provided they can make an accurate shot on goal, in a 1 on 1 situation even with a good keeper, but put a disinterested kid between the sticks and that percentage goes up, there is no time for leaning on the post in this position, the first duty of a goalkeeper is to watch the ball wherever it is on the field and to organise the defence and to ensure the opposing team doesn't get an opportunity to score then spectacular saves are not necessary, should the ball go beyond the last defender the the keeper will have to either clear the ball or catch it, but the latter is only permitted when the goalie is inside the penalty area.

The Defence

The goalkeeper needs to organise the defence and ensure they are paying attention to the opponents and every move they make, they should be anticipating where balls are being fed and obeying the instructions of the goalkeeper to minimise the risk of the opposing team scoring, to do this they must have a loud voice and be prepared to use it. By default they are the captains of the defence.

The defender needs to know who is the boss of the backfield, who they need to listen for the good of the team, they have their role to play, which is to break down any attacking move.

Midfield

Mid-fielders are generally the play makers on the football field they are expected to work the ball forwards and feed the offensive line, they must work with the defence to solidify the back line, giving them extra support in order to stop the opposition, and at that time they need to listen to the goalkeeper.

Once the danger is averted they need to take to opportunity and work the ball forwards to make attacking moves possible. The goalkeeper should try to feed their midfield players whenever possible, unless the team is tactically trying to slow the game down, they will take the ball forward and in this regard mid-range kicks will generally work best allowing more offensive play to develop. The relationship between the mid-fielders and goalkeeper is crucial to the success of the team.

Strikers

Generally the most contact a goalkeeper has with strikers is with the opponents players, where the role demands that the keeper understand the psychology of each, what makes them good and what their weaknesses are, and the way to know this is by watching the game as it progresses, each player will show their techniques and this will help the keeper in understanding those they are playing against. As said previously a good striker will score in a one on one situation when facing the goalkeeper alone, provided they can shoot straight, will score eighty percent of the time, things sure are tough for the goalkeeper.

Nothing as good as...

Maybe I am biased, being a goalkeeper, but I feel that there is nothing quite as good, in this fine game of association football as the sight of a goalkeeper making a phenomenal save. Perhaps the best ever save was by English goalkeeper Gordon Banks against Brazilian striker Pele, but I have seen many spectacular saves, by keepers like:

  • Pat Jennings (Tottenham Hotspur and Northern Ireland)
  • Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow and Russia)
  • Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United and Denmark)
  • Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munchen and Germany)
  • Peter Shilton (Nottingham Forest and England)
  • David Seaman (Arsenal and England)
  • Fabien Barthez (Manchester United and France)
  • Harald Schumacher (FC Köln and Germany)
  • Angelo Peruzzi (Juventus and Italy)
  • Edwin Van Der Sar (Ajax, and Netherlands)
  • Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Republic)
  • Dino Zoff (Juventus and Italy)
  • Gianluigi Buffon (Parma, Juventus and Italy)

Of course each football fan will have their favourites.

Other article you may like

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Tags

Defence, Football, Goalie, Goalkeeper, Keeper, Lonliest Position, Midfield, Soccer, Strikers, The Goalkeeper, The Last Line Of Defence, The Rock, You See Him Or Her Right At The Back Of The Field

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar kaylar
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Many people who don't know much about football do overlook the 'keeper. But one of the things we in jamaica depend on is our keeper...(cause our defense sucks)

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Most important player, but also for sure a lonely position. I never was much for playing sports myself.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

My son loves being keeper -- when his side has the ball at the opposite end of the field! Great look at the lonely post.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Oct 2013 (#)

dont know much about football..just enjoy your writings Peter...

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author avatar Mariah
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Me neither, but this was well explained in how the game works

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author avatar Terry Trainor
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Pat and Gorden were my hero's, Pat with his great big hands used to play for Watford. And Gorden only had one eye.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Very informative and interesting Peter . I will view Goalkeepers in a different light from now on .
Bless you
Stella

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author avatar Retired
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Interesting and informative Peter .. .

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
1st Oct 2013 (#)

In a now out of print book, Football Daft I think it was called, Michel Parkinson gave a chapter devoted to goalkeepers the title Necessary Eccentrics.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Good Morning, Peter. I have a 17-year-old granddaughter who has played soccer since she was five. She is now on a select traveling team and loves her position as wing. My grandson, aged 10 has finally found his favorite position - Goal Keeper. He learned how valuable that position is from his sister, who understands the true value of that position. I only hope that he listens to her for other advice. :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Johnny Knox
1st Oct 2013 (#)

There is that notion that anyone who cannot play soccer will be a keeper which is of course really really false. It is indeed one of the most difficult positions as every mistake counts and could cost a game. Nice post!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

The goalie as the forward and midfielder along the defender are the componets of a good initial eleven. Great goalies in history have been among the tops, looks at Peter Schmichael, Fabian Barthez, Goicochea as well Zubizarreta were among as the best goalies overall

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author avatar Aditya Bhowmik
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

Oh! A nice one ...

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

A good goal keeper boosts the confidence of the team. Good insight on the role of a goal keeper - siva

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author avatar M G Singh
5th Oct 2013 (#)

Goal keeper reminds me of the wicket keeper. Great post.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Oct 2013 (#)

Madan, sir there are many similarities, indeed I have played both positions and do feel that there are several psychological similarities in approaching each.

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author avatar Ptrikha
9th Oct 2013 (#)

Very much true!

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author avatar Ptrikha
9th Oct 2013 (#)

I read somewhere that Lev Yashin was one of the best goalkeepers of all times.

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
16th Oct 2013 (#)

Do you think it at all significant that when he played professional football <a href="http://www.davidicke.com/headlines/">David Icke </a> was a goalkeeper?

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author avatar Nando Matos
7th Jan 2014 (#)

You deserve the right to write !

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
7th Dec 2014 (#)

A fine piece about goalkeeper's role in soccer. I also played soccer in my salad days but as a forward.
I hope you didn't shift the goal posts during your time.
Lastly, paras one and two are one long sentence each.

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