Rightly or wrongly, goalkeepers have a reputation for being the unconventional type, with habits that would see those of us not loved by thousands, probably end up in a straight jacket.
A case in point is Sky One’s drama Dream Team, that depicted Harchester United’s Vivian ‘Jaws’ Westwood as an unhinged maniac with a penchant for spontaneous violent acts on his opponents and own teammates.
The fictional Premier League side were compiled of ‘footballers’ that summed up the stereotypes of the many different personalities that make up your average squad, so that in itself is an indictment of the mainstream perception, albeit an exaggeration of it for the purpose of TV drama. Anyway, I digress.
Some ‘keepers don’t help any rebuttal to the universal and this article does nothing to disrupt this common view. In this week’s Sparta Spotlight, we explore the weird superstitions that perpetuate the stereotype.
Bruce Grobbelaar – Liverpool
Liverpool are on the verge of their first league title in three decades and are strolling towards the most emphatic victory in Premier League history.
So, who is the catalyst for this? Jurgen Klopp? Alison? Saidio Mane?...
Nope, apparently its Bruce Grobbelaar and pissing on the Anfield goalposts like a carefree dog in his local park.
Back in 1992, the year of the Premier League’s inception, Bruce Grobbelaar’s testimonial was held at Anfield ahead of his eleventh season with the Reds.
Zambzei, a popular lager in Grobbelaar’s native Zimbabwe, sponsored the game and oddly enough sent a which doctor.
The oddity only increased from there as when anointing each goalpost with a goat’s tail and proclaiming; “If you don't have the jungle man Bruce Grobbelaar here, you won't win the title”.
After a spell of dominance in the 80’s, Liverpool have still not won a league title since 1990 and the witch doctor’s curse has remained unbroken.
Remarkably, as Jurgen Klopp’s men are on the verge of the Premier League trophy, Bruce Grobellaar poured his own urine from his water bottle onto the Anfield Road posts, in an attempt to break the curse.
Coincidence? Probably, but an amazing one at that.
Fabian Barthez- France
The French are not averse to planting a smacker on each cheek when greeting friends both male and female. But kissing your friend’s bald head for good luck? Now that’s just weird.
French and future Manchester United teammate, Laurent Blanc, planted a kiss on Barthez’s glistening head before the first game of France’s victorious 1998 World Cup campaign.
Les Blues demolished South Africa 3-0 in their opening game in Marseille and again the pair decided to keep the trend going right the way through the tournament, on the pitch before every single game.
As France went unbeaten through the group stage and the knockouts, Barthez’s head would scarcely be dry through June and July. The ritual kiss created some iconic imagery throughout the tournament and beyond, if not appearing a little condescending to their maverick goalkeeper.
They would then continue for every international game they played together and yet again worked its magic as France went onto win Euro 2000, the final being Laurent Blanc’s final game as a player (he later went onto manage the national team.)
Pepe Reina - Liverpool
The second Liverpool ‘keeper in this list and the new arrival at Aston Villa, who admitted to some very random superstitions from his time in Merseyside.
The night before a game his diet would be very strict, but not exactly what would spring to mind to that of an elite sportsman.
World Cup, European Championship and FA Cup winner, Reina would not be able to sleep unless he had a cheese toastie and a glass of wine on the eve of game-day.
Strangest of all however, was his obsession with having a full tank of petrol the day of the match, regardless of whether the fuel would be sufficient for his trip to Anfield.
Reina said himself on the matter: “I get there, open the petrol cap and begin to refuel. I am only at the pump for 20 seconds or so and the tank is full, so I go in to pay. The cashier gives me a bit of a funny look. To be fair, I cannot blame him.”
Whether he has carried on these peculiar habits at Villa Park is yet to be known. If so, they don’t seem to be working.