Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Paul Gardner hates goalkeepers

Once upon a time, back in the 1860s, there were no goalkeepers in soccer. This special position crept quietly into the rules in the 1870s and has been flourishing ever since.

There is a saying in soccer that "goalkeepers are crazy" Â-- which sounds about right, for the goalkeeper has turned into the sport's cuckoo, taking over the nest and assuming an importance that goes far beyond anything that the early rule-makers could possibly have imagined.

The cuckoo image seems to me exactly appropriate, for I have no doubt that as the importance of goalkeepers has grown, the entertainment value of soccer has been pushed aside.

The goalkeeper stands today as the supreme symbol of anti-soccer, the goal-killer, the shutout specialist with little involvement in what happens at the other end of the field, where his teammates are trying to score against his like-thinking opposite number.

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