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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Goalkeepers - crazy but crucial
Peter Shilton in goal for Nottingham Forest
Shilton's performances for Forest won them the League

We all know goalkeepers are mad. It's one of the oldest clichés in football.

History shows that they are also the key component in many of the most successful teams of the last 50 years.

Peter Enckelman's howler for Aston Villa against Birmingham on Monday night, and the continued question-marks over the form of Fabian Barthez at Manchester United, have put the focus back on the men at the back.

The bad news for both Graham Taylor and Alex Ferguson is that, if the past is to be believed, they won't be winning anything until their goalkeepers improve.

Ray Clemence in action for Liverpool early in his career
Clemence in action at the start of his Liverpool career
Who were the heroes of England's World Cup win in 1966? Geoff Hurst, sure; Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters, of course.

But Gordon Banks conceded just three goals all the way through that tournament - one to Eusebio in the semi-final against Portugal, and the strikes by Haller and Weber in the win over West Germany.

Banks understood the importance of a good keeper - and also the pressures that brings.

"I think it was President Truman who kept a sign in his White House office that read, 'The buck stops here'," he once said.

"Goalkeepers could have that carved on their backs."

Banks' successor for both Leicester and Stoke, Peter Shilton, exemplified everything that a keeper can be to a team.

When Brian Clough signed him for Nottingham Forest in September 1977, it was on the advice of his assistant Peter Taylor, himself a former goalkeeper.

Peter Shilton poses for the cameras during his time at Leicester
Could you keep your cool faced with this man?
Taylor was unequivocal in his praise for Shilts - "Peter Shilton wins you matches."

Bob Wilson, former Arsenal and Scotland keeper and another fine judge, says that in that 1977-8 championship-winning season, Shilton was worth 15 points to Forest.

In the 37 league games Shilton played that season, he kept 23 clean sheets as Forest lost just twice.

It wasn't just his shot-stopping and domination of his area. The understanding Shilton had with his central defenders, Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns, meant there were matches where he barely had a save to make.

Contrast that with Barthez's relationship with his back four. Remember Deportivo and Wes Brown last autumn?

In the European Cup-winning sides of 1979 and 1980, Shilton was just as important.

Ask any Forest fan about his performances in the first round tie against Liverpool in 1979, at first the City Ground and then Anfield, or his save from Cologne's Konopka in the semi-final win in Germany.

David Seaman in goal
Seaman's form in 1990-91 was exceptional
In the 1980 final against Kevin Keegan's Hamburg, he was even better. John Robertson's goal may have been the difference between the sides on the scoresheet, but Shilton's string of magnificent saves truly won the game.

Ray Clemence had a similar effect on the Liverpool side that beat Forest to the League title in 1979.

That year Clemence, who would eventually lose out to Shilton in the battle for the England keeper's jersey, conceded just 16 goals in 42 First Division games.

In eight of his 11 seasons at Anfield, Clemence's Liverpool had the best defensive record in the division.

In that time, Liverpool won five League Championships, three European Cups, two Uefa Cups, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one Super Cup.

Coincidence? Course not.

David Seaman nearly matched Clemence's 1979 record when Arsenal won the title in 1991, shipping just 18 goals in 38 games.

Goalkeepers haven't always commanded the biggest transfer fees.

Nigel Martyn was the first £1m man when he moved from Bristol Rovers to Crystal Palace in 1989 - a full ten years after Trevor Francis had become the first million pound player in British football.

Rio Ferdinand cost Man United £30m. But could the lack of a great keeper in the Shilton-Clemence mould cost them the Premiership?

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