| [Ten Insane Glovemen]
- THFT's focus on all things
related to Serbian football
photographic tour through footballing New Belgrade
to some, insanity is a common ingredient in the unstable, eggy, and
frequently half-baked soufflé that is the goalkeeping constitution.
Some, however, have a few added extra grams of this component, not to
mentio, in several cases a few added grams of certain other ‘materials’…
|Fabien Alain Barthez
Barthez was, hélas, as widely recognisable for his hairy goalkeeping as
he was for - bad pun approaching - his hairless crown. Fabien was a
classical goalkeeping eccentric, seamlessly mixing incredible
reaction-saves with virtuoso dribbling and moments of pure incompetence
or delightful hilarity, such as his penchant for gifting goals during
club games to his international team-mates, or having his head
passionately kissed by members of his team.
However, despite being
remembered most frequently for Di Canio-gate and other calamities, it
should be pointed out that the boy Bart was in fact no mug, notching up
nearly 90 caps for his country, who also just happened to be pretty
much the top side in the world at the time, and racking up the medals
with a variety of clubs. Taking all this into account, my recollection
of L'ange Noir is as a figure capable of engendering respect,
admiration, joy, hilarity, and quite often, utter bemusement.
Jorge Francisco Campos Navarrete
If you don’t object, a few questions regarding your goalkeeping preferences:
Taking into account the emphasis placed on goalkeeping extroversion,
would you prefer your ‘keeper to be concerned more with exhibiting a
vivid, vibrant spectrum of colour on his jersey, rather than working
determinedly on his handling skills?
2) Do you
consider the ability to exercise creative input with regard to your
team’s equipment design of equal or greater value than a competence in
relation to the proverbial ‘plucking’ of rasping, curling crosses from
3) Furthermore, would it be
entirely appropriate to you if your team’s #1 were to casually and
unworriedly undertake a Marseille-turn deep in the opponent’s final
If you have answered “yes” to even one of the above
questions, it seems that you may have something in common with Senor
Campos of Acapulco, whose first season at Pumas of Mexico City resulted
in him bagging an impressive 14 goals. Not bad, when you consider he
was by trade a custodian - and a colourful one at that.
Jorge, as he might or might not have been affectionately known in
Mexico, is renowned for both his personally-designed keeping outfits
and his formidable all-round footballing talent. JC loved a ramble
forward, and notched up plenty of goals in his time, often playing as a
striker. Indeed, Jorge's compatriot Senor Carlos Vela, formerly of
Arsenal, would surely benefit greatly from some technical advice from
Jorge as, much to the shame of Senor Vela, Campos has thus far
outscored him in his [admittedly short] career.
Campos’s goalscoring prowess took the attention away from the fact that
he was a half-decent “goaltender,” as he would probably have been
described during his brief spell in the US. Testament to this can be
found in the fact that he managed to amass well over a ton of caps for
Mexico, being particularly impressive at the World Cup in 1994. That
said, I think it’s fair to say that most – outside his native land, at
least – will recall Jorge more for his eccentricities than his
handling, reflexes, or aerial ability.
José Luis Félix Chilavert González
the florid and possibly off-key description of the previous entrant,
you might have realised that I am, on occasion, rather fond of an
extroverted, goalscoring goalkeeper; José Luis Chilavert certainly
falls into that category. Indeed, until relatively recently JLC had
netted more goals than any other professional keeper – and, unlike
Senor Campos, could do it at international level. Big José even managed
to rattle in a hat-trick in 1999.
José's forte was the
set-piece, and he was a regular free-kick and penalty-kick taker for
both country and club. However, rumours that Roy Hodgson contacted him
in relation to a position as England's penalty coach proved to be –
unfortunately, some would say – without foundation.
One of the
personality traits that guarantee JLC a place in this list is what some
observers might call his “foaming, unfettered insanity,” a
characteristic that is often misleadingly termed as "being possessed of
a fiery temper." When not baiting the opposition or falling out with
his federation, he would most likely be found spitting openly and
unashamedly in the general direction of world-class Brazilian
left-backs such as Roberto Carlos, in the full glare of the watching TV
Having said all that, the big Paraguayan was a keeper
of such quality that he made the All Star team for the 1998 World Cup,
alongside another entrant in this lis, the aforementioned Monsieur
Barthez. Thus, máximo respeto must be afforded to a fine player and an
even finer expectorator.
Hugo Orlando Gatti
surprise!, I hear you say. Another fiery Latin American
keeper-dribbler, I hear you say. Come up with something different, I
hear you say. Honestly, I couldn't agree more.
With that in
mind, why then include this headbanded, knock-kneed retiree? Well, Hugo
Gatti was pretty much the original “El Loco,” a nickname that appeared
frequently throughout the autobiography of the totally un-loco El Diego
in reference to a man who was brave – or stupid – enough to stand in
goal for both River Plate and Boca Juniors. Surely, anyone labelled
“crazy” by the man Maradona must be a few fumbles short of a handling
In many ways, though, Gatti was the Jan Jongbloed
of South America (or vice-versa) and, as with several of the noble
gentlemen included in this list, he simply adored a spontaneous maraud
from the safety of his own box, or even his own half. He was, in fact,
a pioneer in relation to goalkeeping, popularising the charge off the
line and the idea of the ball-playing goalkeeper, ideas which modern
viewers take for granted, but which were relatively unusual in the
Alas for poor Hugo, his talent never got a chance to
shine at a World Cup, with Argentina favouring the more ”reliable” Roma
and Fillol at the '66 and '78 Mundials respectively. Boo!
Bruce David Grobbelaar
seems incredible, given the amount of time he stayed at Liverpool, but
Brucie was as prolific a journeyman as he was a shot-stopper, turning
out for nineteen different clubs in a span of four decades and eight
different British prime ministers.
Over the years, the Grob
collected numerous medals and honours in a career that was at times
glorious, preposterous, and nefarious. Interestingly, it could all have
been very different for Bruce had he been able to secure a work permit
for a trial with Big Ron's West Brom in 1978. As it was, he eventually
ended up on Merseyside in 1981, boldly exclaiming that he would take
the number one jersey off Pool's incumbent, the England international
and First Division veteran Ray Clemence.
Without dwelling too
long on an incident of which everyone is by now aware, the
Roma-Jelly-Legs-Graziani scene remains one of the most enduring images
of European football in the 1980s. It is the moment most often recalled
in connection with Grobbelaar, and for good reason. However, Bruce's
name was slightly tarnished in the aftermath of match-fixing
allegations in the mid-1990s; he, Hans Segers, and John Fashanu were
all accused of being involved with betting syndicates. The verdicts and
conclusions drawn from the various trials are relatively inconclusive,
but do seem point to some kind of wrongdoing on the part of the
It seems remarkable that Bruce managed to tie down a
place for so long at Liverpool given the shakiness of his form during
the initial stages of his Anfield days, but this is perhaps a testament
to a character that was tougher than it seemed. Despite his flamboyant
and seemingly carefree persona, Grobbelaar was a man who took
goalkeeping seriously, often taking verbal abuse to heart. In response
to any such insults he received, Bruce claims to have drawn strength
from his days as a conscript in Rhodesia, during which time he was
involved in an attack which left three enemy soldiers dead.
José René Higuita Zapata
if you hadn't guessed by now, central and southern America are
veritable goldmines of goalkeeping exotica. With that in mind, let's
move on to the man whom many see as the Big Daddy of Latin American
goalkeeping, René Higuita.
You will be shocked to learn that
René was nicknamed “El Loco,” and that he was well known for his
outside-the-box activities, often playing in the sweeper-keeper role,
or, as it has become known, the Grand Campos-Higuita-Gatti
Triangle-Zone of Madness. Like his continental compatriots Jorge, José,
and Hugo, Higuita was a big fan of bashing in the odd goal every now
and then, totting up a pretty reasonable total of 25 league goals
during his 22-year career.
Yes, that's right, England fans,
Higuita's career didn't just suddenly end after that moment. In fact,
the famous scorpion kick occurred less than half-way along René's
journey through the traps, pitfalls, and hallucinogenic ethereality
that are synonymous with professional goalkeeping in South America.
After announcing his existence to the world with a superbly executed
loss-of-possession to Roger Milla in 1990, Higuita went on to win a
total of 68 caps for Colombia, scoring 8 goals along the way. Hang your
head in shame, Monsieur Emile Heskey, you have - yet again - been
outscored at international level by a goalkeeper.
old René loved was being an absolute madman. Having come to the
conclusion that receiving a jail sentence for his part in a
kidnap-ransom involving one of the most infamous criminals of all time
was nothing to be unduly worried about, Higuita was later banned from
football for substance-abuse. Even later, he decided that a perfectly
logical “next step” for him to take would be to undergo plastic surgery
in order to complete alter his physical appearance.
Worryingly for the balance of the universe, René has announced that he wishes to become "politically active."
Run. Run and Hide.
Jens Gerhard Lehmann
purely on appearances, Jens Lehmann definitely had something of the
Bond-villain about him. Possessed of an absurdly Teutonic jaw, the
axiomatic steely-blues, and the wavy blond curls of an enthusiastic
young Hauptsturmführer, Jens was the picture-perfect bad guy, an image
which was often reflective of his on-pitch machinations.
the English game might forget that Jens was 33 when he came to England,
and that a career's worth of mischief had been played out before he
ever made it to that murky, troubled island known as Great Britain. In
fact, Lehmann holds the splendid distinction, nay honour, of being
Borussia Dortmund's most-dismissed player - a particularly noteworthy
feat considering his playing position. [Rio voice] Maximum respect,
innit. Furthermore, he holds the Bundesliga positional record for
sendings-off. There's simply no doubting it; Big John loved a nice old
shove every now and then.
But that wasn't the limit of Jens's
antics. The man from Essen had a fondness for using the advertising
billboards as a urinal, and also had a Lecter-esque taste for the
delicious synthetic material from which modern footballs are
constructed. Oh, and since you've been good today, class, and have gone
to all the trouble of reading this far, you might as well fire up
Youtube and have a look at that Drogba incident one last time.
said all that, Herr Lehmann was a fantastic goalkeeper despite his
idiosyncrasies; in a long and successful career, Jens won over 60 caps
for Germany - no mean feat, given some of his contemporaries, including
Oliver Kahn - and took home plenty of honours, both individual and as
part of winning teams such as Schalke, AC Milan, Dortmund, and Arsenal.
Carlos Ángel Roa
Ok, I promise, this is absolutely the last South American on the list.
Charlie Roa, Argentina's goalkeeper for the 1998 Coupe du Monde. If you
don't already know his story, you're probably presuming that he's yet
another twinkle-toed, deep-lying centre-back of a keeper – well, you
couldn't be more wrong.
No, it is not as a result of a
propensity for being dispossessed on the half-way line, or for
nonchalantly knocking in the odd overhead bicycle, that Senor Roa is
included in this list. Rather, it is as a result of his decision to
temporarily abandon his footballing career in order to pursue a more
righteous path into heaven. That's right, in 1999, having just had a
relatively successful season with Mallorca in Spain, Roa opted to
embark on a year of religious retreat. Evidently, the man with the apt
middle-name (Ángel) did not or does not subscribe to the idea of
football as religion. Furthermore, Carlos declared himself unavailable
to Mallorca in the following season, based on his entirely logical and
in-no-way ridiculous belief that the world would soon end.
be fair to Carlos, it should be noted that, however one feels about
organised religion (and I am remaining neutral - in public at least),
he at least stayed true to his beliefs in the face of significant
temptation to do otherwise, something from which many modern
footballers could stand to learn. [End of self-righteous rant]. Carlos
was also decent enough at keeping goal to draw the attention of both
Man Utd and Arsenal, with whom he trialled for a short time in 2002. A
large amount of admiration should also be paid to Roa, who battled
successfully against one of the great nightmares of the male sex –
In terms of his footballing career, Carlos
was a slightly-better-than-average keeper, whose most remarkable
moments for his national team came during the penalty shootout versus
England, in which he - or, perhaps, God - kept out several English
penalties. Not a particularly amazing achievement given the opposition,
you might feel, but nevertheless, someone had to stop those pathetic
excuses for spot-kicks. Carlos, then, was of an entirely different ilk
to the rest of the Latin keepers included here, but in true South
American style managed to display at least some level of mental
instability, which is clearly a vital ingredient for those willing to
play nets in that part of the world.
Harald Anton Schumacher
a list pretty much dominated by the Latin Americans, it's nice to see
the Germans doing their best to osmose some of that region’s keeping
characteristics onto our fair European shores. We've already met Herr
Lehmann, now it's time to acquaint ourselves with Harald Anton
Schumacher - who, coincidentally, played for two of the same German
clubs as Big Jens, Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund. Kindred spirits,
Ok, then, let's get it out of the way; “Toni” is
undoubtedly best known, amongst non-German football fans at least, for
that tackle on France's Patrick Battistion, but this writer is here to
try, in fact, not to focus on the madness of Schumacher's actions that
night, but to attempt to restore his reputation somewhat. That's not to
say that Toni didn't have his foibles. No indeed, Toni stood out
amongst his fellow pros as a result of his pre-match yoga routine –
which, in the 1970s and 1980s would have been seen as being a little
unusual, although certain hairy Welsh wingers might disagree – as well
as his fetching bubble-perm and Hans Das Pornstar moustache.
Toni was first and foremost a top keeper. But for the aforementioned
incident, he might have been recognised more widely as one of the best
keepers of his generation. All in all, he cuts a cultish figure (some
Frenchmen might be inserting an ‘n’ somewhere in this sentence) due to
his looks, his bad-boy/tough guy reputation, and his eccentricities.
Toni, it's hard to deny, made an impact, even in Turkey, where he spent
a few seasons at Fenerbahce.
of you will not have heard of Vladimir Stojković. This is probably
because, in truth, he is not a particularly good goalkeeper, and has
not achieved anything of major import in the wider footballing scheme
of things. However, the man is most definitely certifiable.
as he is [not very] affectionately known by fans of Red Star Belgrade
(with whom he started his career and for whom he played for several
years) is something of a loan-king, made particularly apparent by his
time at Portuguese giants Sporting. Whilst at Sporting, he spent no
less than three seasons away from the club, pretty impressive given
that he was only on the Lisbon team's books for four years. Stojko gave
a good indication of his madness whilst on trial at Everton;
supposedly, he walked out on the club after an hour of training citing,
er, absolutely nothing, as the problem. Rumours abounded about a
"complicated" character. So, time went by, and having failed to make
his mark at Getafe, Wigan, Vitesse, or his other non-Serbian parent
club, Nantes, Vladimir returned home to Serbia, to play for none other
than his beloved, er, Partizan.
Only weeks before joining
Partizan, Vladimir had professed his love for their bitter, bitter
enemies Red Star. Indeed, Red Star had even gone so far as to make him
an honorary member. In return, Vladimir responded by, essentially,
spitting in their faces and signing the dotted line to join the
Crno-beli (Partizan). This, I can tell you without doubt, is an act of
supreme and extreme folly. By joining Partizan, Stojko effectively put
his life in danger, as can be evidenced by the attack on him by a group
of Serbian fans who invaded the national team's bus whilst playing away
in Genoa. The unwise Vlad stoked the fire further by unveiling a rather
eye-catching t-shirt exclaiming “please forgive my ugly past” in the
aftermath of the Eternal Derby between Belgrade's biggest clubs. As a
result, every time he plays against Red Star, he is forced to leave the
pitch in a most undignified manner.
Vladimir has efficiently
and unabashedly turned himself into a hate figure amongst many fans in
Serbia, something which occasionally spills over and involves his
family. One incident, involving former Red Star keeper Saša
Stamenković, belongs in a soap-opera. Amidst certain [alleged] rumours
about the fidelity (or lack of) of Vladimir's wife, the stately Bojana,
Stameni (now at Neftchi Baku) was [allegedly] discovered on the
terraces of Red Star's stadium during a derby game, happily dancing
about and leading a chant that called into question the paternity of
Stojkovic's innocent and entirely blameless son, Lav. Needless to say,
the fallout was sizeable.
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