Poor Rob Green. True, his goalkeeping howler in tonight’s match deserves to be pilloried, he’s likely to face the wrath of the tabloids for it, and yes, it probably cost us two valuable points in our World Cup group, but despite all this I do sympathise with him. If you set the way back machine for twenty years ago, I went through a phase of trying to play in goal. My reasoning for this was simple: while my tactical awareness of the beautiful game was pretty good, my first touch was never great no matter how much I played, and I had absolutely zero dribbling skills. While I could pass, cross and shoot, that lack of ability to beat a man left me classed as a pretty mediocre footballer at twelve years old, so I hit upon the wonderful idea that very few people wanted to play in goal and maybe I could do it. I was going to be the new Peter Shilton! Besides, our regular goalkeeper was pretty rubbish.
My experience with the number one jersey was, unfortunately, frustrating. On the periphery for most of the game, my “abilities” were only called into question a few times a match, and I tended to have one Rob Green moment (the artist previously known as “Calamity James”) per game. This almost always involved an amazing lack of knowing exactly where the corners of the goal were, so I would typically leave a shot that I thought was going harmlessly wide, only to turn in horror to see the net billowing as the ball flew into the top corner. Whoops. That, coupled with my fear of diving in at an attacker’s feet in a one-on-one situation (I blame Marcel of the Bristol 5 team for that, as he used his massively considerable bulk to twat people out of the way, and caused me to come a cropper when he continued his “play the man, not the ball” mantra on my skinny, puny form whenever we faced them), meant that just as with every other position on the field, crippling flaws prevented me from being anything other than mediocre.
So I went back to right midfield and continued in my vain attempt to hold and give but do it at the right time. I never made the school first eleven. But hey, at least I’m not feeling like Rob Green is this evening.