Let Me Entertain You
The end is finally in sight.
Grassroots football will restart from March 29th and 10,000 will be allowed into stadiums from May 17th with the prospect of full capacities from June 21st, just in time for England’s Euro 2020 clash with Czech Republic at Wembley.
With most of us deprived of live sport for the best part of the year, we will be so glad to get back that even the prospect of the proverbial Tuesday night in Stoke seems appealing.
In celebration of our potential return to watching the game we love in the flesh, we will look at the goalkeepers who have gotten the crowd off their seats, the mavericks, the entertainers.
One of the most flamboyant goalkeepers in English football in the 80’s and 90’s was not as reckless as his unpredictable personality may suggest, a stalwart in Liverpool’s most successful ever side.
Grobbelaar hailed from an unusual background for that of a footballer in England of his time, he was born in South Africa and brought up in Zimbabwe, before signing for Liverpool after being spotted during a loan deal from the American Soccer League to Crewe.
Starting his adulthood in the Rhodesian army during the civil war, Grobbelaar was never going to have a conventional career, but it was a career that amassed countless honours.
Grobbelaar was privy to ostentatious moments on the pitch, namely his scrap with Steve McManaman in a Merseyside derby, his wobbly knees antics on the goal-line in a European Cup final penalty shootout and jokingly putting out his cap for money in the midst of his match-fixing accusations.
The former Liverpool and Southampton man was everything that’s good about a goalkeeper, a great performer in more than one sense of the word.
Unfortunately, those outside of Europe didn’t see much of Rogerio Ceni but you cannot deny him an inclusion in this list, with a goalscoring record that many strikers would be proud of.
Ceni spent his entire career with Sao Paulo in his native Brazil before retiring in 2015, earning sixteen caps for national team and becoming the club’s all-time leading appearance maker in the process.
He was such a formidable penalty and freekick taker, that Ceni scored double figures in the 2005/06 season and became one of the famous footballers outside of European leagues.
We would love to see a goalkeeper on set pieces in attacking areas on our shores, if so Ceni would surely provide the inspiration and perhaps already has given his compatriot Ederson’s well-publicised desires to take on penalty duties at Manchester City.
Jens Lehmann was a fantastic goalkeeper by all accounts and enjoyed a very distinguished career, but part of the fun of watching him play was his tendency to fly off the handle.
Attacking players knew that they could wind the German up with the slightest annoyance, but he also had a habit of impulsivity such as grabbing Robbie Keane’s head to concede a penalty in the North London derby and his sending off in the 2006 Champions League final.
Lehmann was typically argumentative, none more so than with his international teammate Oliver Kahn and the two were engulfed in a long-standing feud.
The early 2000’s was a great time for maverick goalkeepers with Fabien Barthez and Oliver Kahn himself in the picture, the likes of which there seems to be a lack of in the modern game.