In this new Sparta feature we look back on years gone by, focussing on goalkeeping matters of the age. In our first edition take yourself back to the mid-nineties. Oasis and Blur were at loggerheads, the Nintendo 64 was flying off the shelves and a summer tournament on home soil was to rekindle England’s love of the beautiful game.
Welcome to 1996.
The landscape of football was rather different in the 90’s and clubs such as Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday who now have a combined 34 years consecutive years outside the top flight, were ever-presents in the top division. In 1996 Leeds were on the cusp of their most successful post-Premier League period and would make the Champions League Semi-Final in 2001. An integral part of the David O’Leary era was their custodian goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn. Martyn, already an England international, was brought in by Howard Wilkinson from recently relegated Crystal Palace in the summer of 1996 for £2.5 million.
Back in the 90’s before Sports Direct was a household name and Mike Ashley even less so, Newcastle were actually pretty good. ‘The Entertainers’ who were inches away from winning the title in 1996, released an iconic ‘keeper shirt in the same year. The orange adidas number was donned by the late Pavel Srnicek and Shaka Hislop. With a silhouetted back-drop of the Tyne Bridge and St Nicholas’ Cathedral, this was one of the first to incorporate regional identity and pride into the commonly patterned kits of the decade. It is still as popular with Newcastle fans as it was back then.
Keeping a clean sheet and saving a penalty is about as good as gets for a goalkeeper. David Seaman did just that in the Euro 96 Quarter-Final in a fabled performance against Spain. 6 years on from (and one week prior to) a devastating semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany, England temporarily exorcised their demons by emerging victorious against Spain. This was not least as Stuart Pearce, who had missed at Italia ’90, smashed his penalty home to cue an iconic celebration from ‘Psycho’. Seaman who was excellent in normal time as the future World and European Champions would take a foothold in the second half, saved Miguel Nadal’s penalty to send England to yet another showdown with the Germans.
IN OTHER NEWS...
Again this title belongs to Leeds United. Prior to Nigel Martyn’s arrival in the summer, his would be understudy, Mark Beeney started a game away at Manchester United in April 1996 with no back-up on the bench. Beeney handled the ball outside of his box in the 17th minute and was subsequently sent off. Defender Lucas Radebe took the gloves and pulled off one of the greatest displays an emergency goalkeeper ever. Beaten only by a Roy Keane strike in the 72nd minute, the South African pulled off some magnificent saves and with Leeds’ number one John Lukic out of form, many touted Radebe to retain the number one spot as Howard Wilkinson’s men strolled to a mid-table finish.