Who Were Ya? Peter Enckelman
Massimo Taibi, Roy Carroll and Lorius Karius are all goalkeepers who's names are engrained in the goalkeeping folklore because of their catastrophic and career-ending mistakes; none other than the latter of the aforementioned, who single-handedly (no pun intended) lost Liverpool last year’s Champions League Final.
This edition of ‘Who Were Ya’ will profile a man who similarly to the gentlemen in the previous paragraph, will forever be marred by one of the most iconically horrendous goalkeeping errors in football history. That man is Peter Enckelman, famed for his exploits at Aston Villa.
Even more delicious to the sadists amongst us is that the error in question was in a fierce Second-City Derby against Birmingham, in his breakthrough season as first choice at Villa Park.
Long before the ridicule he was subject to in England, Enckelman began his career at his hometown club in Finland, TPS Turku before making the move to join Aston Villa in 1999.
The Finn played second fiddle to David James for much of his first two seasons at Villa and then to Peter Schmeichel, before the Manchester United legend made the controversial move to Manchester City after a solitary season at Villa Park.
Enckelman would finally get his chance as the main man from the start of the 2002/03 season, after Graham Taylor opted to bring in back up for him as oppose to replacing Schmeichel, a decision you can’t help but feel may well have been rued by the Villa boss.
After a fairly indifferent start to the season, Villa travelled to St Andrews in September for a derby match with newly promoted Birmingham City.
A humiliating 3-0 defeat was confounded by arguably the worst goalkeeping error in Premier League history. Olof Meberg’s throw-in seemingly bounced off Enckelman’s foot, looking on in horror as the ball trickled into his net. Enckelman claims to this day that the ball did not graze his studs and thus should have been disallowed, a matter that is still debated by Aston Villa and Birmingham City supporters.
The scarred ‘keeper did manage to maintain his place for the majority of the Premier League campaign which saw The Villain’s narrowly escape the drop.
The remainder of his career in England was anti-climactic to say the least with a spell as Blackburn’s second choice and a stint with Cardiff City, where he made 32 appearances in three full seasons.
Enckelman went onto to play for St Johnstone and Hearts in Scotland before calling time on his career at Finish Premier League side, IFK Mariehamn. He did manage ten caps for his native Finland, but mirroring his club career, was understudy to Antti Niemi for the lion’s share of his time in the national squad.