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Top Ten: Young Goalkeepers
The goalkeeper should be the bedrock of a team, emanating a cool, composed aura that reassures his colleagues. He needs to be commanding and decisive, not attributes you would usually ascribe to youth. Instead these mental qualities need to be learned, which takes time. This is partly why goalkeepers tend to peak later and last longer than outfield players. ‘Young’ does not apply in the same way as it usually does to goalkeepers because they are so specialist and so are a law unto themselves. In order to get a better idea of the best young goalkeepers the age cap has been raised to 24. With this in mind, Sport.co.uk considers the most hopeful goalkeeping prospects…
1) Manuel Neuer, 24
Neuer has been the first name on the Schalke 04 team sheet for some time now. He was awarded the Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper in 2007 and acknowledged as Best UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship Goalkeeper 2009. Neuer became Germany’s No.1 for the 2010 World Cup due to a rib injury to Rene Adler and did not let the opportunity slip through his fingers. Some outstanding reflex saves ensured that Germany conceded only one goal in the group stages. His exceptional distribution was displayed when he turned provider for Miroslav Klose’s first goal against England in Germany’s 4-1 win, but we won’t dwell on that. With Neuer’s consistently convincing displays this summer, Joachim Loew will have a welcome selection headache when Adler returns.
2) Hugo Lloris, 23
After a move from Nice to Lyon in 2008, Lloris was instantly instated as first-choice goalkeeper due to his aerial agility and overall dependability. He has since made 71 appearances for OL, picking up the Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Lloris ousted Steve Mandanda as the French No.1 in June 2009 and has since only missed one game for the national side due to suspension. Though Thierry Henry overshadowed France’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, it is Lloris’ hands that should really be thanked for their appearance in South Africa.
3) Igor Akinfeev, 24
Akinfeev has enjoyed an illustrious career to date, winning a host of domestic trophies and the UEFA Cup in 2004-2005. He broke into the CSKA Moscow starting line-up at the young age of 17, and then went on to make his debut for Russia at 18. He has won 40 caps and now finds himself in the remarkable position, for someone so young, of captaining both club and country.
4) Joe Hart, 23
Hart was awarded the No.1 jersey for Man City at the start of the 2008-2009 season but found himself one of the many casualties of City’s new found wealth. He was pushed down the pecking order after Shay Given’s arrival, but seized the opportunity to play regular football at Birmingham City last season. After a number of assured and brave displays Hart was voted Birmingham City’s Player of the Year, nominated for the 2010 PFA Young Player of the Year and won a place in the PFA Team of the Year. Many have tipped Hart to be England’s No.1 in the very near future, provided this agrees with Capello’s Index.
5) David De Gea, 19
The 2009-2010 season was a breakthrough year for the young Spaniard. De Gea won a permanent starting position in the Atletico Madrid side and played in eight UEFA Europa League matches, including the 2-1 victory in the final against Fulham. De Gea’s performances between the posts impressed Vicente del Bosque sufficiently to name him in Spain’s provisional 30-man squad.
6) Fernando Muslera, 24
Having recovered his confidence after a shaky start at Lazio, Muslera proved to be somewhat of a sensation in South Africa. Muslera kept clean sheets in all of Uruguay’s group matches and sent his nation through to the semi-finals of the competition by saving two penalties against Ghana. Muslera’s shot-stopping capabilities were apparent as he made a total of 32 saves throughout the World Cup, the most of any goalkeeper.
7) Sergio Romero, 23
Romero proved himself in the Dutch Eredivisie by helping AZ Alkmaar win the championship in 2008-2009. However, his good decision-making momentarily left him when he punched a wall, breaking his hand after a loss to NAC Breda in March 2009, which spelt the end of his season. Nonetheless, Diego Maradona recognised Romero’s passion and potential and made him Argentina’s number one for the 2010 World Cup where he played in all five of their matches.
8) Sergio Asenjo, 21
Beginning his career at Valladoid, Asenjo made 47 appearances for the club between 2006 and 2008. Atletico Madrid obtained his services in the summer of 2009 and he started the 2009-2010 season as the first-choice goalkeeper. However, some costly mistakes and a change in manager meant Asenjo lost his place to David De Gea. Time will tell which one of the youngsters will be Atletico’s No.1 but one thing is for sure, the club will be hard pressed holding on to both of them.
9) Fraser Foster, 22
The second Englishman on the list might spell a change in fortune between the sticks for the national side. Signed up as a schoolboy by Newcastle United in 2006, Foster had an extremely promising loan switch to Norwich City last season where he was named Norwich City’s Player of the Year. Still to make his debut for The Magpies, we may be seeing him prove his credentials in the top flight at some point next season.
Luke Pybis 08/02/1995 age 16
With great skill with hands and feet, fantastic communication skills and great shot stopping , one to definately look out for in the future.