On this week’s main report we look at one of the key positions on the football pitch: the goalkeeper. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report.
What do they do?
It is often said that goalkeepers are a different breed, that they are not like other players on the team and not just because they are the only member on that team that is legally allowed to use his or her hands with the ball. Keepers also wear a different colour top to the rest of the team and enjoy more protection from the referee than other players. Though they may not run around as much or be as involved as other outfield players they can have a strong influence on the game by preventing rather than scoring goals. Because of where they play – they can see the whole pitch ahead of them – they can organise their team mates’ positioning, with keepers often being called the most vociferous player in the side. So, instead of scoring, shooting, or assisting, goalkeepers defend and save with much of the language associated with the keeper linked to the hand: the keeper caught the cross, to punch the ball clear; a fingertip save, to throw the ball out, to palm the shot away.
The Best Ever?
Trying to choose the best ever goalkeeper is a risky business as fans use different criteria to decide. Current day keepers are probably quicker, fitter and better prepared than their predecessors but it is too early to judge whether that player can enter the pantheon of great keepers, so with apologies to Spain’s Iker Casillas and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon here are five – in no particular order – we think could make it on to any best ever goalkeeper list.
England prides itself on having produced a long list of goalkeeping greats (Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence) but most would agree that Stoke City’s Gordon Banks was the best of them all. He was a member of England’s World Cup winning team of 1966 and is also remembered around the world for this save against Pele in the 1970 competition.
The Italian won 112 caps for his country and captained them to the World Cup in 1982 at the age of 40 and also played on the European Championship winning team of 1968. He went over a 1000 minutes unbeaten in international tournaments.
The German keeper won everything at club level with Bayern Munich including eight league titles and a Champions League winners medal, while he also won the European Championship in 1988. Though he did not win a World Cup he came close in 2002 when his performances throughout the tournament helped Germany to the final.
The Danish international won five league titles with Manchester United as well as a Champions League but despite his dominance of English football in the 1990s perhaps it was his heroics in the 1992 European Championship when unfancied Denmark won the title that really made his name.
Yashin played in the 1960s for Dynamo Moscow and for the Soviet Union with whom he won the European Championship title in 1960. Remarkably, for someone who played more than 800 times in his career he kept more than 500 clean sheets.
Patreon – Support Learning English Through Football
a different breed: A different kind of person
outfield players: The defenders, midfielders and attackers – the rest of the players – those who play with their feet.
The pitch: The playing area
most vociferous player: The player who shouts and organises the most
fingertip save: A great save made with the end of the fingers
to palm the shot away: To make a save with an open hand
the pantheon: Used to describe a place where the greats (the Gods) sit
their predecessors: Ones from before, those who came before
prides itself: Is proud about
heroics: His strong performances
unfancied: No one thought they would do well
clean sheets: Used to describe when a keeper does not concede a goal