Just be grateful Gooners
With all the controversy surrounding Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation this season, and Heurelho Gomes dropping another of his comedy clangers against Real last week, we thought we would choose a list of the biggest goalkeeping clowns to play in the Premier League, if only to make North London football fans feel better.
10. Mike Hooper
The tag of benchwarmer is not necessarily an insult to a goalkeeper (see Steve Harper for details), but in this case it truly is.
Hooper started his top flight career at Liverpool, where he made 50 league appearances in eight years. His Premier League career began when he was bought by newly-promoted Newcastle, but again was on the bench and made just 25 league appearances in three years. Hooper was even allowed to join rivals Sunderland on loan where, you’ve guessed it, he sat on the bench and didn’t even make a league appearance.
9. Gunnar Nielsen
Possibly an unfair entrant, but given that Manchester City have spent £300million in no time at all, Nielsen must be their strangest signing so far, and only qualifies for this list after playing for fourteen minutes when Shay Given got injured.
They oddly signed him from Blackburn (after a six month loan at Motherwell) and then let him go on loan to Wrexham immediately, where he got injured. He has since been loaned to Tranmere, where he got injured.
After all the money spaffed by Manchester City, it may be the undisclosed but insignificant amount on an uncapped Faroese goalkeeper which is the most surprising.
8. Stephen Bywater
If you are number one goalkeeper for the worst side in Premier League history, you probably have to expect to take a battering. And Bywater did. The following quote, made before that fateful season, indicates why:
“I grew up with a few of the lads like Paul Robinson, Rob Green and Chris Kirkland and they are good but I don’t think they are anything special. I do believe if I play well and have a good season, I will be up there in contention (for an England call-up). I am confident but not cocky.”
After 19 games, including 43 goals conceded and just two clean sheets, he was allowed to move on loan to Ipswich in the division below, where he finished the season playing 17 games. England form? No Stephen.
7. Andy Marriott
It would be fair to say that Andy Marriott, the current Exeter City goalkeeper has had something of a journeyman career. In March 2003 he joined Birmingham City, his first move into the Premier League. He made just one Premier League appearance, away at Spurs.
Seven minutes into that game he threw the ball out, Robbie Keane ran from behind him and kicked the ball into the net.
Marriott’s Premier League career was now over.
6. Matteo Sereni
Sereni has played 337 league games in his career. All but 25 of these were in Italy, and the exceptions were for Ipswich Town. Football is odd sometimes.
What projects Sereni onto this list, rather than him being just an average goalkeeper, is that the Tractor Boys paid a club record £4.5million for the pleasure. With Sereni in goal, Ipswich were relegated, and he was allowed to leave on loan to Brescia.
5. Gabor Kiraly
To be honest, you could be Gordon Effing Banks, but if you wear trackie bottoms when in goal, people are going to be suspicious that you are a clown.
Incredibly Kiraly managed to hold down the number one shirt for a while, overseeing relegation in the process. Even more surprisingly, Kiraly moved to two Premier League clubs (West Ham and Aston Villa) although only made five appearances.
Is now part of a Hertha Berlin side that is close to gaining promotion to the Bundesliga.
4. Mike Pollitt
It says something about a goalkeeper when he has made appearances for 17 clubs, and for 11 of those clubs has played five or less games.
What is also impressive is the ability to have a 21-year career starting in 1990, and only make your Premier League debut in 2005, making just 35 more appearances in six years.
All in all, Pollitt is a goalkeeper that is as average as can be at a Premier League level.
3. Andy Dibble
Playing for 18 different clubs hints that you were a bit of a journeyman, and when you have a 24-year career but play less than 400 league games, it hints that you are not necessarily a number 1.
The Premier League part of his career came in his lengthy spell at Manchester City, where he was second choice behind Tony Coton. Still Dibble managed to embarrass himself by holding the ball out in his hand without realising Nottingham Forest’s Gary Crosby was behind him. Crosby headed the ball out of his hand and into the net.
In 1998 he was given the chance to resurrect his career by Middlesbrough. He played two games. He conceded 11 goals. His next two clubs were Barry Town and Altrincham. Top flight career over.
2. Massimo Taibi
Taibi was signed by Manchester United for £4.5million by Sir Alex Ferguson as a potential replacement for Peter Schmeichel, which instantly propels him up the chart.
The Italian actually won man of the match in his first game against Liverpool, and must have though the world was in his hands. However he only played just three more games, including conceding five against Chelsea and THAT error, letting a Matt Le Tissier shot squirm through him.
Impressively, United managed to get £2.5million back for him, and he promptly scored in his first game after leaving the club permanently.
Has there ever been a worse player appear for AC Milan and Manchester United?
1. Kostas Chalkias
And so to our number one. Greek keeper Chalkias was brought to the Premier League by Portsmouth, stayed a while, proved that he was completely mad and then effed off to Spain, where after two games he again left, this time heading back to Greece.
He made his debut away at fierce rivals Southampton, where he was part of the team that lost 2-1 in the Cup, and flapped at most things that came his way.
Over the five games he played for the club, Chalkias showed his penchant for wandering for crosses and coming miles out of goal. He hit a free kick from Thierry Henry into his own net and hit Arjan de Zeeuw for scoring an own goal. Chalkias was soon pushed down to third choice by Jamie Ashdown and Sander Westerveld, and eventually moved to Real Murcia in the Spanish Segunda Liga.
In truth, Chalkias was the epitome of manager Velimir Zajec on the field.