Sheffield United - Crystal Palace 2-1
Crystal Palace - Oldham 2-0
Crystal Palace - Millwall 1-0
Finally I am backing in bussiness and form. It has been long and winding road for me this season but now injuries seem to be gone and hard work seems to be bit paying of on the pitch as well. I am pleased about being back after hard times.
There is always ten unhappy footballers for every happy one. I heard that Jerzy Dudek even tried a suicide. After being humiliated by his own mistake against Manchester United he decided to jump under the train. But the train went between his legs and he was too confused to try to catch the next one.
This is cruel humour. This is one of the many jokes and headlines one great goalkeeper made by losing his concentration for just one second. That equals 1/324000 part of the season. Rest of the 99 percent he has been so far playing ok. Who cares, he dropped the ball and now we have a new national joke!
Everyone can see the goalie. Not just because they are usually bit taller and dress differently but also because on their hands are often the key moments of the game. And if their hands drop those keys the doors to the headlines will open. That makes some people happy; they can put it on goalies account again. Don’t they like that!
Every keeper has dudeked it at least once during the career. Some have been more fortunate with their place and timing than the man himself. It is only a human error, but people call it a nightmare. That is called Keepers Union, at least one guaranteed nightmare in every keeper’s closet. If a goalie makes a great save and an error he will be remembered for the blunder, which sometimes will overshadow his whole career. Many keepers are only remembered by their worst moments.
It is almost racism to only mark goalies mistakes. Keepers Union are right in their cause but it is an old cliche to compare keepers’ small mistakes to other players’ mistakes. Obviously keeper mistake is more dramatic and its effects to a game bigger than slipping in the midfield. All the other players make more mistakes each game than many goalies make during the whole year. Then again it is an own choice to put the gloves on and from that moment starts the close inspection. All the other players can always say that the keeper still could have saved it, but the ones with gloves have no excuses behind them.
One harsh example happened in the last World Cup. There were two famous mistakes in the same situation, both just small inaccuracies. The other made David Seaman a villain, the other Ronaldinho a hero. Seaman was just one step too close and actually quite well placed if Ronaldinhos cross would not have been many steps wide miss-kick. The nationwide consolation is that yet again we have a reason and excuse to blame it on keeper and forget the otherwise boring performance.
Soap-finger, Hoover, Chocolate-wrist… We have the names and we feel it is our right to make fun about the keepers. Already in our youth we used to put the neighbours fat kid to stand in the goal and let the real players to play. The keeper don’t just get mud to his kit he also gets the most dirt and abuse mentally. They are most haunted athletes. And of course everyone has a granny that could have saved it.
It requires character and self-confidence to be under so close inspection and pressure all the time. It requires character to throw oneself in front of a hard shot. And a poor instinct of protect oneself to dive into a strikes feet. On the other hand keepers seem to enjoy coming boxing the ball and may be even opponent if on the way. It goes without saying that it is commonly expected and encouraged that keepers should have a go on his teammates. All this requires quite a special character and personality. In some ways the view of the world must be somewhere between Napoleon and Mahatma Gandhi.
Keepers are their own tribe. Not because they dress differently on the pitch and are allowed to handle the ball. They are just different kind of people. I haven’t come across with a normal keeper yet. Some people say they are crazy. I think they are just bit special, and many times in a good way. Obviously you have always this one lunatic who have saved too many ball with his head. But most of the keepers are a combination of reliability and no instinct of self-protection, overall really good, brave and interesting persons and professionals.
Moreover these days they have started to emphasis their personalities. The times of the un-colourful and dull keepers standing lonely on their line has changed. Now more than ever keepering attracts personalities that want to be a part of the show. In the time of huge television coverage goalies have took step forward to make themselves to more glamorous. Many outfits reminds of a rainbow these days. Not to mention the TV-saves and trophy-balls. Some keepers have made it a form of art to make easy catches to look like saves of the century. Still the fact is that best keepers aren’t glamorous, they are solid. Every team has rather a reliable man than a show-clown on their most important line of the game.
If you can’t stand the heat get out of the goal. Keepers play a different game than other players. It is mentally, physically, tactically and technically very different from the other players’ duties. You can almost talk about a different sport. And in a way it is not even a team sport. Their game involves lot of individual efforts and training plus huge individual mental pressure, all very different and special performances from the rest of the game. It is said that even good keepers cost around six points a season to the team. However good goalies can also save at least four times more points to their team. It is undoubtedly a key possession. And keepers’ responsibility is all the time getting bigger from not just stopping the ball but also actively taking part of the building up the attack.
However the chances to make an impact in a game are rare and come often unexpected. It must be hard to keep the concentration for whole of the game. Most of the time the ball is nowhere near and it can be a bit cold to just stand there alone. It would be only human to start looking for fit birds from the stands or think of what food to shop on a way home. And that can result of another dudek being created.
So we have come to a conclusion that keepers are a weird tribe, with special ego and mad bravery. They dress and act different, have started to take a bigger part of the game and yet still we know that eventually they are going to dudek it. Then not so important people can celebrate with new jokes and headlines again.