The latest BT documentary took viewers into the minds of the one team-mate who stands alone on the pitch – the goalkeeper.
The traditional football team is made up of various characters that can be found in most teams of any level across the world.
From the wise old heads of the dressing room led by the captain and his closest allies setting the example for the rest to follow, to the lazy strikers whose arrogance is only matched and usually justified by their goal tallies.
The youngsters add energy with their thirst to improve and boundless ambition and naivity.
While battle-hardened warriors strike fear into their opponents and team-mates alike with their crush at all costs commitment to the cause.
And behind all is the one member of the team who stands out from the others. He wears a different jersey and plays by different rules – the goalkeeper.
These are just my own observations from playing amateur football at one level or another for my entire life, although the stereotypes should apply to most pro teams from the perception on the outside as a fan, and watching Dream Team as a teenager!
Robbing once-special now-grumpy supermanager Jose Mourinho of his self-proclaimed title, the team at BT decided to name the goalkeeper ‘The Special One’ and it is easy to see why.
The doc is presented by previously unknown Blue Peter presenter Richie Driss, who opens by revealing he too as a child wanted to be a goalkeeper.
Several leading names feature including former England stars David James, Rob Green, Ben Foster and Paul Robinson and current number one Jordan Pickford.
Each has their own unique insight into the role of the most lonely man on the pitch.
Rob Green, for example leads a recurring snippet in which he ‘myth-busts’ various cliches spoken about goalies such as ‘he shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post’ and he went for the save with his ‘wrong hand’.
Ben Foster, who has over a million followers on his ‘The Cycling GK’ YouTube channel also introduces viewers into the realities of the expectations and perceptions us ‘outfielders’ have on the man between the sticks.
As a life-long goalhanging striker myself, I had never ever put myself into the mind of a goalkeeper, other than trying to work out how to beat him.
As we have come to expect from the team at BT Sport, The Special One was eye-opening, engaging, fun and 2022-broadcast-ready. While on the ‘other side’ Carragher was still arguing with Redknapp as to where the VAR offside lines should begin and end, on the game that took place seven hours ago! Probably lol
The Special One opened all sorts of angles to the goalkeeper’s role that had honestly just never occurred to me while playing football throughout my life.
The classic ‘you have to be a crazy to be a goalkeeper’ cliché is rolled out early much to our delight whilst the episode is sprinkled with various comical quotes from former legends of the sticks.
The numerous psychological, physical, sports-science and social media elements of being a modern player are all discussed, from the unique point of just one man from the team.
As Premier League star of numerous clubs Rob Green says: “It’s basically a different sport.”
Former Man Utd and Watford stopper Ben Foster added: “You have to be one of the alphas in the team, but have your own separate job to do.”
The doc then relived the tragic tale of former Borussia Monchengladbach, Benfica, Barcelona and Germany goalie Robert Enke who took his own life as the pressure of the job became too much.
Host Driss speaks to Enke’s father by Zoom and the reality of the situation takes hold.
Ultimately, as all players and fans know, a mistake made by the goalie is highly likely to result in a goal against the team.
That pressure has always been there, but the modern world has amplified it, with every game having multiple cameras recording every incident from numerous angles, and the studio pundits lie in wait before online trolls join the party.
On reflection it is easy to see how the weight of pressure can be a struggle.
In truth, throughout my playing days I have always considered the goalie a valuable part of the team and expect them to give their all with a positive attitude like everyone else.
Sometimes you know you have a good keeper and rely on him to save the team on occasions and easily forgive any errors.
Equally you can know your keeper is a bit dodgy, even a new man in every five minutes, and realise collectively as a team it is a weakness and must be protected.
Either way it’s always been a case of do your best and don’t be a moaner and you’re alright by us.
That is without the eyes of millions of viewers and would-be critics around the globe watching though.
It must be tough to be fair.
As a lazy striker from amateur level I might think twice before slamming the next goalie I see to be beaten by a ‘soft goal’.
I also might not.
Lifelong fan of the Premier League, looking on from the outside since 1999 waiting for Forest to return to the top table where they belong. Probably get promoted this season.