A Year in Goalkeeping - 2000
2000 was a rather significant year for humankind but also for English football. The new century was subject to widespread scaremongering by many a conspiracy theorist who believed that electronic devices would not be able to comprehend the change in date and bring civilisation to a halt.
The human race survived, but football fans in England would mourn their national stadium, with the old Wembley drawing its metaphorical curtain in October in a World Cup Qualification defeat to Germany, also spelling the end of Kevin Keegan’s managerial reign with the national side.
You’re a bit red-faced that your prophecies of Y2K came to nothing, you were looking forward to the England playing at a stadium near you after Wembley’s closure and your parents are slightly concerned of how snakes are on your Nokia 3310.
Just like that you’re back in the year 2000.
One of the most eccentric and controversial goalkeepers in Premier League, Fabian Barthez was brought by Manchester United for £7.8 million in the summer of 2000 from Monaco, a then record for an British team to spend on a goalkeeper, as Sir Alex frantically searched for a long-term replacement after efforts to replace Peter Schmeichel failed miserably in 1999/00 season.
Barthez was France’s first choice in their triumphs in 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, also winning Ligue 1 with Monaco in 2000 and such was his stock in the game at that time, seemed the perfect fit for an all-conquering Manchester United side.
Barthez was an instant hit with the Old Trafford faithful, largely down to his unorthodox style, rocking the short-sleeved shirt before they were cool for goalkeepers and his outfield exploits that would put Manuel Neuer to shame.
Aside from his cult status, the World Cup and European Championship winner proved himself a more than capable shot stopper, helping United to their third consecutive Premier League title in the 2000/01 season.
Barthez played 30 games in the league and every one of United’s Champions League ties and remained as number one until a loan move Marseille in 2003. 2000/01 season was the highlight of the Frenchman’s tenure at Old Trafford and his performances were inconsistent after that.
January saw Barcelona part company with Ernesto Valverde who suffered the same fate as Louis Van Gaal back in 2000 on the back of a trophyless season, losing out on the La Liga title to Deportivo La Coruna and the Champions League to Valencia.
Disappointing it may have been, but the 1999/00 season saw the Catalonians don some dazzling kits and the orange number worn by Ruud Hesp and Francesc Arnau who shared the goalkeeping duties at the Nou Camp.
The block black shoulders and sleeve compliment the two shades of orange magnificently and could well have passed as Barca’s away shirt, a colour scheme they are very familiar with in that regard.
The Nike emblem sat beneath the crest, just as it did for the home shirt of the same season that celebrated the club’s centenary. A prominent orange stood out as the new millennium saw kits becoming more and more ordinary and disassociating with the individuality of football shirts in the 90’s.
Barcelona seem to consistently churn out the most stylish kits around both home and away, with Nike’s partnership with the club one of the most historic in the game.
As far as their goalkeeper tops go, the one worn in one of their least spectacular seasons in living memory, will take some beating.
Francesco Toldo - ITALY V Netherlands, Euro 2000 Semi Final
Iconic Italian goalkeepers of the 21st century. Gianluigi Buffon is first to your mind, yes?
In the year 2000 it was Francesco Toldo who had his name of lights and was the toast of the Azzurri.
Just eight days before the start of Euro 2000 in Holland and Belgium, Buffon broke his hand in a pre-tournament friendly with Norway to gift Fiorentina ‘keeper the opportunity to make a name for himself.
He did just that with fantastic performances throughout the tournament, but it was in semi finals against the co-hosts where he would shine the most.
Italy were up against it after Gianluca Zambrotta was sent off after 35 minutes and conceded a penalty just two minutes later which Toldo magnificently saved from Frank De Boer.
Remarkably, the Netherlands would miss another penalty after Patrick Kluivert struck the woodwork from twelve yards just past the hour mark and it seemed like lady luck was shining on the Italians. This wouldn’t be the end of their agony from the spot.
Defiantly, Dino Zoff’s men kept the Dutch at bay through 90 minutes of normal time and a further 30 in extra time, with Toldo dominant and collective throughout against a Netherlands’ side that were spearheaded by Patrick Kluivert and Dennis Bergkamp.
Mentally blighted by their two penalty misses, the men in orange missed three of four spot-kicks in the shootout with Toldo saving two, again from Frank De Boer and Paul Bosvelt.
The Dutch were agonisingly denied a home final and despite a defeat to France in golden goal, Toldo unsurprisingly went home with some accolade in the form of ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’.