Being a goalkeeper is physically and mentally tough. You need be agile, strong, fit, focused, brave, decisive. You must be fully prepared to carry the weight of the team on your shoulders, wear mistakes, handle stress, and accept that you’ll rarely experience the glory outfield players do. You will always face far more criticism than praise.
So why does anyone become a Keeper in the first place? What’s good about being a goalkeeper?
It’s an interesting question. Here’s all the best things about being a goalkeeper.
Any goalkeeper will tell you: we’re a different breed. You know right from the moment you start playing football that you’re not quite like the other 10 players on your team.
The responsibilities, specialist training drills, unique equipment — as well as the bravery to take on a role that demands such vastly different skills to all other on-pitch players — attracts certain types of people to the role. Becoming a goalkeeper is a reflection of a person’s independent and single minded nature.
As a Keeper you know that only those with the ability to think for themselves; someone responsible, level-headed, dependable can be entrusted with the #1 jersey. You’re the special one (not you, Mourinho) that has the job that 10/11 others instinctively shied away from. And that’s something to be proud of.
Becoming A Leader
It’s often disputed whether goalkeepers should be team captains. But whether or not you’ve been given the armband, you’re inevitably going to become the leader.
Being a goalkeeper requires assertiveness and the ability to give commands. Keepers need to be clear, loud and direct at all times in order to organise their team to defend against attacks. There’s no hiding in the pack as a goalkeeper!
Becoming a responsible leader and commanding respect is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a goalkeeper. And gaining that experience can have a positive impact in many other areas of life — such as your career outside of football.
Maximum Game Time
While outfield players certainly experience more glory on the whole, it comes with the frustration of being benched for lengthy periods, not starting games — or not playing at all.
First choice Keepers (in particular) get a lot of game time. It’s rare that a goalkeeper in the starting line-up does not play the full 90 minutes. Therefore goalkeepers have more ownership over the team and its performances than anyone else.
Keepers rarely score goals — but who ever said they can’t make assists?
As Keepers we have the ability to distribute the ball from our hands, which is generally much more precise than using only your feet. So it’s quite common for a quick throw-out, or accurate long ball kick, to (directly or indirectly) lead to a goal.
In fact, it’s more satisfying to set up a goal as a Keeper from the opposite end of the pitch than when you’re expected to regularly do so as an outfield player.
Making Penalty Saves
Keepers aren’t expected to save penalties. It’s worth noting that historically in the Premier League 84% of penalties have been scored, 4% missed, and 12% saved.
But because there’s no pressure to produce the save, penalties are a goalkeeper’s chance to shine. Making a penalty save that changes the game, or one that wins the penalty shootout is a keeper’s ultimate moment of glory.
You might need to be patient to become a penalty hero — but it’s well worth the wait.
The Power To Turn Games
All experienced Keepers will recall matchdays when they made a series of saves that uplifted their team, frustrated the opposing attackers, turned a game on its head, and single-handedly snatched their team the points against the odds.
In a sport where strikers steal the glory — often dancing and gloating in goal celebrations while Keepers pick the ball out of the net — it’s vitally important to enjoy and savour the moments where you’ve equally been the most influential person on the pitch.
Keepers have the power to alter the course of games and seasons. That’s truly one of the best reasons to become one.