Are goalkeepers peaking later?

Posted by - February 11, 2010 - Ranting and Raving

Ageing keeper population

In his commentary last night, John Motson praised Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann for getting down to save a low shot considering he will be 38 this summer. But did the American deserve the special disclaimer? After all, he wasn’t even the oldest Premier League goalkeeper playing last night.

Edwin Van Der Sar remains Manchester United’s best option despite being 39, David James – also 39 – is back in Portsmouth’s starting line-up now he has waived his appearance-related contract extension. Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer is still going strong at 37, and 38-year-old Brad Friedel is arguably playing some of the best football of his career.

Goalkeepers have always enjoyed longer careers than outfield players and their form has tended to improve with age. But that used to mean that goalies enjoyed their peak in their early thirties.

Now it seems to be in fashion to have a keeper who’s pushing 40 in the team. Again, it is not unheard of for a keeper to play until he hits the big 4.0. but this is the first time that we have had an entire generation of Premier League zombie keepers marching into middle age together.

So are our goalkeepers peaking later, just staying fitter longer, or are Premier League managers too fearful of the uncertainty of change?

  • Dave

    Our keeper is still Tony Roberts who is 40 now. About 7 years ago he was absolutely fantastic and he declared at the time he thought he was better than in his Premiership days, but he’s still very very good. Can he go on til 45?

  • Eugene Kan

    I think goalkeepers maintain a role on the pitch that has the most significant impact with the least amount of physical work. That is, a lot of the intangible aspects that make a goalkeeper good really become enhanced as one gets older as a by-product of experience.

    A good goalkeeper isn’t often the one that can reach out at full-stretch and paw that ball out of the back of the net but rather the one that one that ensures the shot never took place in the first place thanks to proper defending.

    And of course, goalkeeping is less physically punishing on the body.

  • Cyrus

    So…there is hope for Almunia??? ha!