They are there to protect teams from the inevitable but sometimes goalkeepers tend to have a habit of letting in bloopers. These so called gaffes are part and parcel of the game but if they come to pass, it can spell the end for some shot stoppers.
At the end of the day, a goalkeeper is a nomadic career which can take them to the dizzying heights of European and World Cup glory. On the other hand, some individuals can take the other path and have a slippery goalkeeping slope towards notoriety. Of course, this can be for all the wrong reasons as some mistakes are highlighted more than others.
Take for example, the goalkeeping exploits of Scott Carson. The former West Bromwich Albion number 1 faded into the sunset like a popular Western movie. He was tipped for the very top but his goalkeeping blunder for England against Croatia ensured he was destined for the soccer scrap heap. This was on the same night when the Three Lions failed to qualify for the European Championships with coach Steve McClaren hailed as “the wally with the brolley”.
Meanwhile, there have been other goalkeeping clowns who have shot to stardom for all the wrong reasons. This includes the likes of David James who once was put up front for Manchester City in a bizarre tactical move by his manager at the time Stuart Pearce. The ex-Liverpool and Aston Villa keeper was known for his outstanding saves but was known to be influenced by high profile computer games. So the tale goes, James used to actually study these particular games in order to enhance his shot stopping abilities. Yet, which goalies grab the footballing spotlight as being the worst of all time?
9 Heurelho Gomes
Brazilian player Heurelho Gomes is another contender for worst goalkeeper of all time. He came to the fore during his career in Holland. After an impressive showing, he was soon snapped up by English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. In spite of the fact that managers such as Harry Redknapp did stick with him, Gomes was prone to the odd error or two. His shot stopping was not particularly put into question, but it was more a case of confidence as well as ball handling skills. In the end, both of these factors contributed to Gomes’ fall from grace. It signified the beginning of the end for him and in a short space of time; he was eventually relegated to the substitute’s bench. At present, Gomes is keeping goal for championship side Watford as the Hornets push for a promotion slot this summer.
8 Mike Hooper
If ever there was a keeper that would fit into the typical benchwarmer category then look no further than Mike Hooper. The former Liverpool goalkeeper is the epitome of this particular phrase as he watched on for the majority of his playing career. Whilst on Merseyside, Hooper actually made 50 appearances for the Reds. However this was over the space of eight years after joining from Newcastle United. At the Magpies, Hooper again only managed less than 30 games at St James Park over the course of three years. Even a loan spell to bitter rivals Sunderland couldn’t escape Hooper from the dreaded bench where he failed to register one single game.
8. Gunnar Nielsen
Another contender for worst goalkeeper of all time belongs to much maligned player Gunnar Nielsen. This has to be one of the weirdest signings Manchester City ever made. Having recently spent well over $400 million on a new training academy, Nielsen was by far the worst player to have never made a full appearance. In fact his Manchester City career lasted a total of fourteen minutes when he came on in order to replace the injured Shay Given. This was in spite of him never even receiving one cap for his national team the lowly Faroe Islands. Having signed Nielsen from Blackburn Rovers there was much hope but this was dashed and he was soon shipped on. Some of the clubs he went to appear for feature Wrexham as well as Motherwell.
7 Mike Pollitt
Shot stopper Mike Pollitt is definitely a sad goalkeeping tale from the footballing annals. In fact, he has made appearances for nearly 20 different clubs in his playing career. However for the majority of them, Pollitt only managed to pull on the number one jersey less than five times for each side. That is quite a staggering statistic for a playing career which spanned more than two decades in total having begun in 1990. How does he keep getting chances?
6 Stephen Bywater
Officially down in the record books as part of the worst team in the history of the Premier League, Stephen Bywater is a shoe in for a list like this. He played a key role in Derby County’s campaign in the Premier League where he appeared on 19 separate occasions. This included conceding more than 40 goals with only two clean sheets to his name. After this uneventful period, Bywater drifted like a nomad and went on to appear for Ipswich Town among a string of other clubs.
5 Peter Abrahamsson
An unusual contender in the top 10 goes to Peter Abrahamsson who played for Örgryte. Playing his football in the Swedish second division is not exactly the most glamorous for some, but Abrahamsson enjoyed a calamitous gaffe which puts him right up there. This involved coming for a bog standard punch in the penalty area which took place against league rivals Hammarby. However, a rush of blood or something a little more mysterious befuddled Abrahamsson into claiming the ball outside his box. As a result, he made contact with the ball nowhere near the area and was dismissed after less than a minute into the game.
4 Andy Dibble
Although former Welsh footballer Andy Dibble had an average career at best with a longish spell at Manchester City, the rest of his footballing days somewhat flew past. He played for a staggering 18 clubs and was considered to be a typical example of a football journeyman. His playing career was an impressive quarter of a century despite playing only around 400 league games in all. His only lengthy spell of note was arguably one of the most significant especially for Dibble. Manchester City played against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground which to this day is still talked about.
This is thanks to an outrageous goal where Dibble was involved. Having the ball in one hand and about to take a goal kick, midfielder Gary Crosby was hiding behind him. As soon as Dibble was about to launch the ball, Crosby nipped in from behind and headed the ball from out of Dibble’s hand to score. A later two game stint at Middlesbrough did not do him any favours where he conceded more than 10 goals in just two appearances. At present, Dibble is a goalkeeping coach at lower division side Rotherham United.
One of the most forgettable goalkeepers of all time was the capture of Ricardo for $2.5 million in August 2002. Being second choice is all well and good but Ricardo was brought in as a number three. This was in order to provide back up for not only Roy Carroll but former French international Fabien Barthez. To add insult to injury, Ricardo only made one league appearance for the Red Devils against Blackburn Rovers. In fact, with his first touch, Ricardo managed to do the impossible and give away a penalty straight away. When Everton keeper Tim Howard arrived on the scene, it was curtains for Ricardo and he moved back to Spain as swiftly as he arrived.
2 Peter Enckelman
Former Finnish goalkeeper Peter Enckelman is another tale of goalkeeping woe. Once again, this man between the sticks enjoyed playing for a number different clubs. This ranged from Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City to Scottish club Heart of Midlothian. Yet he was most renowned for appearing between the sticks for Aston Villa. He was not the most loved at Villa Park and this soccer mire was added to when appearing in a rough and tumble Midlands derby.
Enckelman played for the Villains against Birmingham City at St. Andrews where they were losing by two goals to nil. After a thrown in was taken which was aimed back towards the keeper, what happened next turned out to be simply indescribable. As the play developed, Enckelman let the ball slip under his feet and rolled agonisingly into the back of the net.
1 Massimo Taibi
Without a shadow of a doubt, the worst keeper of all time has to go to Italian goalkeeper Massimo Taibi. Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for more than $9 million, the promising number 1 came from Serie A to ply his trade at Manchester United. The Scot had high hopes for the six foot plus shot stopper, but this all turned to footballing dust in a short space of time. His first appearance was against the mighty Liverpool at Anfield where Taibi did put in a man of the match display. This was largely in part thanks to his series of saves which kept the Merseysiders at bay.
In a career at Old Trafford which was over as soon as it begun, Taibi also played against Chelsea. Unfortunately, it was not to be his day as he conceded five goals at Stamford Bridge. The final nail was to come back at the Theatre of Dreams in a game for United against Southampton. The ball was picked up in the midfield area by Saints Matt Le Tissier. The well-known phrase “my granny could have saved that” never felt so true at Le Tissier took a shot from around 30 yards out which trickled at a snail’s pace along the turf. What unfolded next was to be one of the most catastrophic footballing disasters ever witnessed. As Taibi went to pick the ball up, it somehow went through his hands and into the back of the net. With more than 70,000 fans in the ground, a collective sound of disbelief rang out among the Old Trafford faithful. Shortly afterwards Taibi was sent packing and never played another game for Manchester United.
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