A couple of international breaks ago we featured a list of top English goalkeepers list. As England gear up for their final qualification game after trouncing Montenegro 7-0; the football season is well underway, your team is most likely not living up to your fanciful preseason aspirations and the weather is horrible. We thought we would pile on the misery and dig out the top five England goalkeeping howlers.
Funnily enough, this list was far easier to compile, mainly down to the fact that goalkeeping errors in huge games have been a common theme in the 21st century.
1. Robert Green V USA - World Cup 2010 Group Stage
England’s World Cup teams haven’t always been hailed as heroes as they were after nation-encompassing run to the semi final in 2018. The 2010 team, who drew 0-0 with Algeria, scraped through one of the easier groups in the tournament and got trounced 4-1 by Germany, were pillaged by all corners of the media and support.
Public enemy number one after the opening game was ironically England’s number one, Rob Green. In a game fabled for ITV’s airing of a car advert over Steven Gerrard’s opener, Green produced a moment of inexplicable ineptitude as he allowed a tame Clint Dempsey effort crawl under him. Green was understandably distraught as millions of viewers back home drawing a collective gasp.
All goalkeepers have been there but to do that in the biggest game of your career is very difficult to come back from. England drew 1-1 and Green played just once for his country two years later. The team also never really recovered, squeezing past Slovenia to set up a second-round tie with Germany with the Three Lions looking more like kittens in one of the most feeble defensive displays of recent time in a 4-1 defeat.
2. David James v Austria - 2006 World Cup Qualifier
The younger England fans who have only experienced the golden generation of goalkeepers of today don’t know how lucky there are. After the retirement of David Seaman, England’s number one was probably last on the team sheet as Sven Goran Erickson and his ensuing counterparts would suffer the consequences of his limited candidate pool.
David James, not averse to the odd mistake, was one of the goalkeepers in the national team’s revolving door. It was James’ turn between the sticks as England started their qualification campaign for the 2006 World Cup in Vienna to face Austria.
England looked good value for three points in their opening fixture as they approached 70 minutes two goals to the good until Roland Kollman gave Austria a lifeline with a magnificent freekick. Not to be out staged, James would take the headlines as he inexplicably dived over the ball from Ivanschitz’s weak drive.
James sat despondent in his penalty area acknowledging that his time as number one was more than likely coming to an end. Sure enough Paul Robinson would replace David James and would go onto start just five more times for the national side.
3. Scott Carson v Croatia - Euro 2008 Qualifier
Arguably one of the darkest nights in the national team’s history, Scott Carson’s night was a nightmare from start to finish as Steve McClaren’s tumultuous was brought to an end after failing to qualify for Euro 2008.
McClaren had the hallmarks of a man who had well and truly lost the plot, opting to give Scott Carson his competitive debut ahead of Paul Robinson in England’s most important qualification match since David Beckham equalised against Greece to send England to the 2002 World Cup in dramatic fashion.
Within seven minutes, McClaren’s selection blunder was apparent. Darijo Srna’s very saveable effort from 30 yards was completely misjudged by Carson as it bounced ahead of the Aston Villa ‘keeper and bobbled into the net.
Carson was then rounded by Ivica Olic to put Slavan Billic’s Croatia 2-0 up, a deficit England managed to overturn. Despite pulling the game back to 2-2, the ‘Wally With the Brolly’ was unable to protect his side’s place in the Euros as he had done himself of the elements and England lost 3-2. Scott Carson’s hapless attempt at saving Srna’s shot is the perfect representation of the Steve McClaren era.
4. Paul Robinson v Croatia - Euro 2008 Qualifier
You thought you had heard the last of Steve McClaren and those plucky Croatians, forever a thorn in England’s side. How wrong you were.
The aforementioned goalkeepers never really salvaged their international careers afterwards and this one is no different.
The reason this isn’t higher in the list is the debate of whether this was Gary Neville’s over- weighted back-pass or a bobble in the Zagreb pitch. Whatever your outlook, it is still a painful watch.
Neville’s routine back-pass to Robinson bobbled across the unforgiving surface, hitting a divot, springing over the Tottenham man’s foot to send the Croatians into raptures and condemning England to their heaviest competitive defeat for fourteen years.
It was a disastrous night for England in a 2-0 defeat and after a 0-0 draw at home to Macedonia in qualification, the cracks were beginning to show just a few months into Steve McCalren’s tenure.
5. Joe Hart v Iceland - Euro 2016 Round of 16
The most recent in our collection of howlers belongs to the man with the smoothest scalp in football and on a warm night in Nice at Euro 2016 he also ‘boasted’ the slipperiest hands.
Despite England’s sub-standard performances in the group, they were handed a relatively straightforward tie against Iceland, ranked 35th in the world. However, the Nordic men looked every bit as skilled, if not more so than Roy Hodgson’s side.
England had taken the lead with a Wayne Rooney penalty but Iceland had equalised within a minute and Joe Hart, who’s error had led to Wales’ equaliser in the Group Stages, dropped an absolute clanger to hand Iceland their winner in the 17th minute.
Striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's shot made its way inexplicably between the hands of the now Burnley goalkeeper in what was one of the worst moments in England’s recent footballing history and the pinnacle of international sport in Iceland. The courageous Vikings went onto the Quarter Finals and were well worth it.
Like Scott Carson before him, Hart’s mistake effectively cost his manager his job after Roy Hodgson resigned just minutes after the defeat.