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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 13:47 GMT
Stubbs: Life of the goalkeeper
Teddy Sheringham and Gary Walsh
Teddy Sheringham pounces on Walsh's mistake
BBC Sport's Ray Stubbs looks at the men in football's firing line and the characteristics of the custodian.

All goalkeepers accept the occupational hazards of letting in a soft goal.

They know that a costly mistake is around every corner, free kick and back pass that hits a divot. . .ask Gary Walsh.

It's a real hoot to the rest of us, gives us a headline and generates an action replay - a real side-splitter.

But Gary will be aware it was just a case of it being his turn.

It will be someone else's come the weekend and to get inside the mind of a goalkeeper is no easy task.

Custodial change

The cliché that you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper fails to look at the way that the position has developed over the last twenty years.

In days gone by they were often left to their own devices.

But today goalkeepers operate in a very different private world of coaches, physios, nutritionists and enough routines and drills to fill a toolbox.

No wonder they have very individual personalities, but there is a common thread.

They regard the interior of two posts and a crossbar as sacred ground, they patrol it as if their life depends upon it and they regard it as a personal affront when a ball goes past them.

Goalkeepers will not be smirking at Gary's misfortune and will instead be crossing everything possible to make sure that it isn't their turn this weekend.

Bob Wilson and David Seaman
Wilson has guided Seaman through his career
I remember in long conversations with Bob Wilson just how seriously he and David Seaman analysed each goal that went past the Arsenal and England custodian.

What could be done next time?

They ended up talking about very small percentages of change in positioning.

There is one drill I saw them do one day when Bob placed three traffic cones in front of David and battered the ball towards the cones to represent the slightest deflection - and things have moved on since then.

Too busy to celebrate

At the end of last season, five minutes after Leeds had qualified for European competition, the goalkeeping staff were in a huddle.

They were discussing the differences between the ball they would be using in Europe as opposed to the Premiership.

Plans as to how they could get used to changes in the ball's movement and the way it skids of the surface and how to vary training in an effort to get used to both the footballs they would encounter the following season were underway.

And consider too the personality of some of these guys.

Bruce Grobbelaar was capable of anything - Alan Hansen still has a nervous twitch at the mention of his name.

Rene Higuita
Higuita delights the Wembley crowd
Ask Steve Bruce about Peter Schmeichel, and then there is Old Trafford's latest arrival - Fabien Barthez is no shrinking violet.

Come to think of it how would a Premiership manager have dealt with Rene Higuita's scorpion kick.

And don't mess with the man with the gloves.

Aston Villa's Turkish defender Alpay may well be considering reconciliation with David James once Steve Staunton, a former team-mate at Anfield, brings him up to speed, because David is a very, very intelligent man, but not one to mess with.

I am not sure if it has been written, but a book on the inside of the mind of a goalkeeper would make a ripping good read.

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See also:

15 Jan 01 |  Eng Prem
Alpay apologises after James slap
14 Jan 01 |  Bradford City
Jefferies backs red-faced keeper
01 Jan 01 |  Arsenal
New Gunners offer for Seaman
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