I was playing in a higher category, against older guys with powerful goal kicks, but I was able to keep up with them quite easily. I was certain I could even go up one more category and slowly make my way into the senior team.
I also loved training more and more each day. I would have loved to spend all my time at the pitch, even on my own, because I knew I would always do what the coaches told me to and never slack off. When there were five or six guys at the goalkeepers’ practice, there was so much dawdling and time-wasting. I’ve always needed to keep busy.
Allow me to digress a little and tell you something about “goalkeepers’ training”. If you want to try this hard footballing craft, or you’re already working on becoming a goalkeeper, I’ll tell you what you need: great hand-eye coordination and technique, strength, explosive strength and lightning-fast reflexes. It’s quite a lot to ask, don’t you think?
There are many opinions on how goalkeepers’ training should look, how to make it as effective as possible. The times when a goalkeeper was just a guy standing in between the sticks who knows how to catch a ball and then throw it to someone or kick it as far as possible are long gone. If you think that this is all there is to goalkeeping, you’ve seriously missed the boat.
The goalkeeper has only one privilege: he can catch the ball with his hands, but besides that he must be able to play football just like his team-mates in the field. Not on the highest level like them, of course, but it’s a good motivation and a useful guideline. When it comes to ball-playing and pass quality, the goalkeeper should strive to be as good as his team-mates in the field. That’s why these football skills must be part of the goalkeepers’ training.
I’ve already said that as a boy I played on the wing or in the midfield. I’ve gotten a feeling for the game as it happens in the field, and that has proven more than useful, because in modern football the goalkeeper has become a kind of sweeper – a libero if you will – who helps to start the moves from the back or even start off an attack. So it’s desirable and even vital to be good with your feet.
I’m a leftie and I dare say that I can pass the ball accurately over 60 metres of distance. And being able to rely on such a thing helps the team a great deal.
I’m by no means perfect, of course, sometimes I make mistakes, but I’m still working hard to avoid them. My right foot is okay too, I can kick the ball over half the pitch with it as well. But don’t be fooled: short passes and ground passes are equally important. They help when defenders get into trouble and need to pass the ball to the goalkeeper. Then you need to rely on your ball-playing skills, not necessarily your goalkeeping skills.
P.S. The following chapter coming up next week!
A story by our special guest Jan Stejskal, a renowned goalkeeper who coached Petr at Sparta and in the national team. …
Being tall can be useful. …