It’s hard being a goalkeeper sometimes. As the last line of defence, if you make saves and do your job well you’re praised by team-mates and fans, however one mistake and you are criticised incessantly until the cows come home.
With no one behind them if things go wrong, when goalkeepers make mistakes they almost always lead to a goal and the loss of their clean sheet. Most recently Arsenal have found their stoppers making high-profile gaffes, such as Wojejch Szczesny conspiring to hand the Carling Cup to Birmingham after a mix-up with centre-back Laurent Koscielny and just this weekend, the much maligned Manuel Almunia racing out of his penalty area, missing the ball completely and allowing Peter Odemwingie to score the softest of goals.
This week I offer consolation to Arsenal’s goalies by picking out 10 calamities from a whole host of ‘keepers. Some may have lost concentration, picked the wrong footwear or suffered from a case of butterfingers, whatever the excuse they will have wanted the earth to open up and swallow them whole.
10: Nery Pumpido
It’s the opening match of the 1990 World Cup and reigning champions Argentina meet African minnows Cameroon at the San Siro. Prior to the match there seemed there’d be only one winner and the South Americans would begin their defence of the trophy with a win. It seemed even more likely as Cameroon’s robust approach saw them down to nine men during the second half. However in the 67th minute the Africans had a free-kick wide on the left and as it went into the box it looped high into the Milan sky. As it began to drop Francois Oman-Biyik leapt highest but headed tamely at goal. However Argentina goalkeeper Nery Pumpido allowed the ball to squirm past him and gift the underdogs a 1-0 lead. The error in fact decided the game and Cameroon secured a famous victory. Pumpido’s World Cup got even worse in the next game as a broken leg saw him miss the rest of the tournament.
9. Fabien Barthez
Fabien Barthez joined Manchester United in the summer of 2001 after the club’s struggle in replacing Peter Schmeichel in goal. The Frenchman was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world but prone to occasional errors. In November 2001 United travelled to Highbury in an early clash of the top two teams in England. With the scores at 1-1, Barthez made his first error in hitting a poor clearance to Thierry Henry on the edge of the penalty area who slotted the ball into the gaping net with ease. However worse was to come from Barthez. As he attempted to collect a long ball forward, he spilled it at the feet of Henry, who scored his second goal and secured a 3-1 win for the Gunners.
8: Scott Carson
Scott Carson had an England debut to forget. One of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in the country was chosen in goal by Steve McClaren for that fateful Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia at Wembley in November 2007. Carson’s inclusion came after Paul Robinson’s shaky form following his unfortunate blunder against Croatia in a 2-0 defeat in Zagreb the year before. England needed a point to qualify for the Euros but got off to the worst possible start thanks to an error from goalkeeper Carson. Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar hit a speculative 30 yard drive which dipped and bounced off the greasy surface but should’ve been relatively easy for the goalkeeper. However Carson failed to get his body fully behind the ball as it ricocheted off his hands and into the net behind him.
7: Roy Carroll
The infamous ‘goal that never was’ from Pedro Mendes. In January 2005 Manchester United hosted Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford and with 89 minutes gone Spurs’ Portuguese midfielder Pedro Mendes spotted United goalie Roy Carroll off his line and attempted to beat him with a lob from 50 yards out. Carroll gets back in time but spills the ball over the line then instinctively knocks the ball out of the goal with his right hand. Spurs players claimed it had gone in but referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistant Rob Lewis gave nothing. Television replays quite clearly showed the ball crossed the line and Tottenham were denied their first win at Old Trafford in the league in 16 years. Carroll got away with it then but not here, his blunder should’ve resulted in the winning goal.
6: Logan Bailly
The most recent gaffe in the top ten comes from just last week by Logan Bailly. The Belgian international goalkeeper was playing for Borussia Munchengladbach against Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga when his attempt at punching away a corner went horribly wrong. Misjudging the ball as it swirls into the box, Bailly tries to recover by punching it away to safety, instead he makes awful contact and punches it into his own net. A gift of a goal and it turned out to be the decider as Kaiserslautern won 1-0. That’s why English goalkeepers are taught to catch the ball!
5: Robert Green
Speaking of English goalkeepers, during the run-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Fabio Capello struggled to decide whom would be his number one for the tournament. Both Robert Green and David James had their good and bad moments in a Three Lions shirt but it was Green who got the nod for England’s opener against the USA in Rustenburg. All was going to plan in the first-half as captain Steven Gerrard put England in front after just four minutes. The USA were in the game but rarely threatened but on 39 minutes they levelled. Midfielder Clint Dempsey hit a shot from 25 yards which was low but never troubling the goalkeeper. However Green let the ball slip from his grasp and roll over the line, despite his attempts to prevent it doing so. A nightmare for Green and Capello and the team as 20 million English fans back home were left in a state of disbelief. This moment summed up England’s World Cup if anything.
4: Peter Enckleman
The Finnish goalkeeper was guilty of a most embarrassing mistake during the first Birmingham derby to be played in the league for 16 years back in 2003. In the second half of the match the Aston Villa goalkeeper failed to control a seemingly innocuous throw in from teammate Olof Mellberg. The ball trickled over the goal line and gave Birmingham an unexpected goal to the delight and amusement of Blues fans.
3. Khalid Askari
This gem comes from Morocco and makes the top three for the clip’s hilarity and the goalkeeper’s stupidity. During a penalty shootout goalkeeper Khalid Askari saved one of his opponents spot kicks – or so he thought. After parrying the shot, seemingly away from goal, Askari turned to the stands celebrating. However as his back was turned, the spin on the ball carried it over the line and the penalty counted. That’ll teach him for being cocky.
2. Massimo Taibi
A name that brings shudders to the spines of Manchester United fans. The Italian stopper was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £4.5 million pounds from Venezia in 1999 as a potential successor to Peter Schmeichel. Neither Mark Bosnich or Raimond van der Gouw could claim the number one jersey so Taibi got the nod – earning a Man of the Match award on his debut against Liverpool. However it went downhill fast. During a match against Southampton at Old Trafford, Taibi produced probably the most memorable gaffe in the Premier League. United were leading 2-1 when Matt Le Tissier hit a scuffed shot at goal from 25 yards. The daisy-cutter trickled toward Taibi who got down to smother it, but the ball went through his fingers, under his body and trickled over the line. Taibi blamed the error on him wearing the wrong kind of studs on his boots, but there was no excuse. United drew 3-3 and Taibi played just 4 matches for the club, including a 5-0 mauling at Chelsea.
1. Tomislav Piplica
Quite possibly the funniest goalkeeper mistake I’ve ever seen. Bosnian goalkeeper Tomislav Piplica was playing in the Bundesliga for FC Energie Cottbus and they were leading 3-2 in a match against Borussia Munchengladbach in 2002 with just four minutes to go. A Munchengladbach player tries a volley at goal from 18 yards but it deflects off a defender and the ball flies high into the sky toward Piplica. Standing on his goalline, the goalkeeper keeps his eyes on the ball but lets it bounce off his head and into the net. A ridiculous moment made even more comical by him falling backwards into the goal afterwards, as if the ball was made of concrete.