The Psychology Of A Goalkeeper Pt II
Today we will look at some thoughts on why being a goalkeeper is an underrated position. In some ways it’s soccer’s equivalent of being “just a waitress”. When I used to hire people, anyone who had waiting experience got an interview. Why? Because if you can deal with the level of stress, multi-tasking, continued demands, dealing with screw ups in the kitchen, dealing with miserable and rude people, and somehow maintain sanity while making a living from giving great service, there’s not much you can’t do.
The word “just” does not belong in a sentence when talking about waiters and waitresses, or goalkeepers. Anyone who feels otherwise should give it a go.
We’ll start today with this quote from Diego Maradona, who cheated his way to a World Cup in 1986, breaking English hearts as he cheated against them to score a cheated goal with his hand.
Maradona never had much love for goalkeepers, but this quote to the Pope really highlights his position.
“You were only a goalkeeper” – Diego Maradona
Yeah, that’s right, Cheaty – and “only a goalkeeper” should use their hands.
OK, rant over, moving onto some opinions that matter…
“Goalkeepers need an element of insanity” – Oliver Kahn
“It’s best being a striker. If you miss five then score the winner, you’re a hero. The goalkeeper can play a blinder, then let one in… and he’s a villain” – Ian Rush
“For a goalkeeper, there is no hiding place” – Brad Friedel
“Massive, massive mentality. The mental strength, you’ve just got to have that because you get a lot of stick, as a goalkeeper you’re the last line of defence. When a goal goes in everyone looks at you, you’ve got to be able to deal with that. If you make a mistake, it could be a bad mistake, how are you going to recover? Are you going to react positively or are you just going to cave in?” – David Seaman
“I’m not the sort of person who poses in their underwear. I hate the red carpet. I prefer the green grass. After the games the highlights show mostly the goals, scoring chances, assists. The spectator tends not to remember that as a goalkeeper I make difficult saves at great risk and start moves with my efforts” – Manuel Neuer
“It can be a lonely world as a goalkeeper” – Hope Solo
The Ian Rush quote is really important. Rush was a prolific striker for Liverpool when they were dominating English soccer. As we said in the last post, being more successful doesn’t mean you are winning. Goalkeepers are successful against Manchester City 70% of the time, but for the most part they walk away on the losing team. The mental toughness needed to willingly choose this path is astonishing. Knowing that you could be a superstar, be the man of the match, and still feel responsible for the whole team losing is a mindset tougher than any other position. Strikers miss the target all the time and it’s acceptable. There may be the odd howler leaving them wondering “What if?”, but for the most part it’s an accepted part of the job that you will fail more than you succeed. This is the total opposite of a goalkeepers position.
The world of a goalkeeper is much like the workplace. You have the person who constantly talks about “their achievements” as though they did it all alone. You have the defenders who try their best, and when they make a mistake it is you that pays for it. You have midfielders who are a bit detached from what you do, but if they had done their job in the first place, your life would be easier (these are probably the middle-managers, and from time-to-time one goes rogue and thinks they are Lionel Messi on steroids leaving a mess for everyone else to clear up).
From these quotes, here is the profile of a goalkeeper:
Lonely. Overlooked. Underrated. Under-appreciated. Vulnerable. Villain. But… and this is what we will talk about next time …Mentally tough.
If you can associate with any of these areas, the next post will look at how a goalkeeper is able to keep their mind, self-esteem, and positivity while the world is against them, and how we can use those tips in our everyday life.
Here are today’s three takeaways:
1 – It is difficult to maintain integrity when you look down on someone, and yet have to cheat to beat them. Right, Diego?
2 – It is very often those we underrate and under-appreciate who are working the hardest and most important to the system.
3 – As Neuer shows (and Carl Alford demonstrated), the person with the last touch often grabs the headlines.
If you enjoyed the last selection of weak shots, here are some more:
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