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Becoming England's Number 1: A Cursed Life?


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Very interesting, it's mad how many mistakes in big tournaments England goalkeepers have made over the years. Pickford so far so good but you'd think given his form this year Ramsdale should be in with a shout for that number 1 spot going into the World Cup. 

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@menzinho Ramsdale absolutely deserves a shot. 

It is crazy and I know goalkeepers make mistakes but it's just crazy for me how they become more prone to mistakes once they become the go to goalkeepers or in with a chance. 

Pickford is prone to them for Everton but for England in tournaments he's phenomenal. 

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I remember the days of Clemence, Shilton and ( to a lesser extent) Corrigan vying for the England number 1 slot and would say the 70s was probably the last decade we had a wealth of top quality keepers compared to the rest of Europe/world.
Post Shilton, I would only probably call Seaman a world class keeper and he was well past his best for the 2002 tournament, a bit like Shilton was in 1990.

Pickford has done OK, but he is a good keeper, not a great one and I would probably say he has been the best since Seaman.



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Thanks for posting this! David James is the odd one out, as he became known for embarrassing mistakes during his club career, took the England jersey at the twilight of his career and was always reliable for his country. But after him we had a series of England goalkeepers who weren't at the top level and didn't cope with international tournaments. That's more to do with them not being good enough than some kind of curse. 

There is an issue with all this though - goalkeepers are under far more scrutiny than outfielders. Every player makes mistakes - defenders scuff clearances, midfielders lose the ball, strikers miss chances. But when you're a goalkeeper, there is a bigger focus on your individual mistakes rather than the things you did right. If this were a list of strikers, we'd be talking about goals scored rather than individual chances missed. 

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@Fozzy 100% agree. Pickford is our best since Seaman. His form in both tournaments has been excellent and especially in the euros. Seaman was falling out of favour at Arsenal around that time as well so it was inevitable that his time for England was ending. Its a shame it ended the way it did though. 

@DangerousSausage as a goalkeeper myself, I agree with your point and I have done a seperate post on the blog. 


I've been known to say multiple times that a goalkeeper could have a stellar game saving 7 one on one's 2 penalties and keeping the score down but one mistake is all they'll be known for. As opposed to a striker who could miss 4 one on one's, 2 open goals and a penalty but if they grab a winning goal all that is forgotten. 

The phrase cursed life seems to fit with the examples because they play fantastically well but as soon as they grab the number 1 Jersey they fall off form whether it's about not being good enough or complacency. 

David James was brilliant when called upon for England, maybe its a blessing he was called up when he was rather than his earlier days when he was prone to errors and earnt the nickname. 

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The issue with being the England goalkeeper, is that people always compare them to people such as Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, especially the UK media.

David Seaman was a very solid keeper, both for club and country.

I would say he's one of the last English keepers that didn't have the type of issues our modern options have. Paul Robinson/David James both had hiccups. However, James had the confidence to come back. It is quite disappointing how Robinson's career went down hill after his blunders - almost to the point it was sabotaged by the amount of stick he got.

Another issue, in my opinion, is how we overrate our keepers.

Joe Hart used to frustrate the hell out of me, but he was once a very decent keeper. I would just say that he did come across as very overrated and, once his ability got the attention that saw him dropped by Man City, he's not recovered. I think that would suggest he was always somewhat overrated to some degree, but nobody knows if a manager had stuck with him - if it would've turned around over time.

Jordan Pickford is a keeper I do really like, I think he's a big factor as to why we've had success internationally and, he's maintained the position even though his club performances haven't been that great. I thought Everton would be a good fit, but in hindsight he would've been better signing for a more rounded Premier League team like West Ham or Southampton (even though both have various levels of ups and downs).

At this point in time, England doesn't really have the issue that was obviously there after David James retired.

The only thing people can say, is that we don't have enough with international experience but a keepers position is an easy one to gain this. It just means giving them a chance, supporting them and, avoiding throwing them into big games that is difficult to maintain 100% focus/confidence in their own abilities.

Lastly, the biggest factor in my eyes is the lack of real quality in front of our keepers today.

We struggled at left back, relying on players such as Ashley Young and James Milner, and rotated various players at right back until we found two regular options. Yet in the middle, we don't have any outstanding centre backs. Harry Maguire can be good or, he can play like a headless chicken. Personally, I sometimes feel he only gets selected due to playing for Manchester United. Even at club level, he's been dodgy for a few years.

Joe Gomez should improve with time, he's possibly the best option available right now, but it's a lot of pressure for someone.

Conor Coady should've left Wolves earlier in his career to advance further, he's what, 28-years-old now? He was once considered to be our brightest prospect in this area.

Eric Dier isn't a centre back, he's way better in midfield or as a defensive midfielder in my opinion.

Dier and Maquire are a lot similar. They can be solid but also prone to just stupid decisions/mistakes.

Tyrone Mings isn't England material, for me, he's a prime example as to how weak we've become. It's also why we often push someone from the right side, into a CB position.

John Stones is good, but overrated would easily attach itself to his name. The moment Manchester City purchased him, it was like the lad was frustrated in front of everyone's faces as a future John Terry etc.

He's the best England has at the moment.

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@Chris agree with most of that being said. 

A mate of mine is a Villa fan and in regards to Mings we both agree there's other defenders out there more deserving of a place in the England set up than Mings. Don't get me wrong Mings can have his good days but they're very rare. 

The media situation in the UK is bad no matter what position they play. As soon as a young player comes through they hype them up to the point there's to much pressure. Look at Walcott for example. He was hyped up to be a star but once he didn't live up to the hype they expected, they slammed him down and he didn't really recover from that either. 

Robinson was a brilliant goalkeeper especially his days at Blackburn but I don't think he could handle the pressure needed to be England's number 1. Mostly because of off the pitch pressure. 

At the minute, the England set up front to back is one of the best we've ever had. Strangely though, it's more defensive than offensive that England are particularly good at these days. Pickford is a huge compliment to this. He commands the back line like a goalkeeper should. He's not afraid to shout, give instructions or help the defence out when needed. His whole attitude is what is needed to keep the discipline of the back line. 

With Joe Hart, his loan spell at Birmingham made him a star. At Man City he deserved his push but there was always something about him on a personal level that Roy Keane and Pirlo were right about he was abit too Cocky for his own good and that led him to his dimise. I do however feel sorry for him as he's been unfairly treated by Pep. For me, you can't judge a goalkeeper based on how they play at their feet. In today's game obviously it's a huge helping hand because it's how the game has evolved but I'd much rather have a keeper who can deal with one on one's and shot stopping rather than a keeper that can play with the ball at his feet. 

John Stones for England is an outstanding defender and he plays his own way. But, just like many other English players, he made the wrong move to a "bigger" club and has paid the penalty for it. He deserved a move away sure but just like many others it's not all dreams to do such a thing. It helped him become a regular feature for England though. 

I've been a fan of Joe Gomez for some years now and when he partnered Stones for the game against Croatia in the Nations League he looked set to make it his own but injuries hampered him at a crucial time. For me, Coady deserves more appreciation. Everything about him is what England need. A vocal player that can ping balls up field and wears his heart on his sleeves. 

No one, at least not for a while, will ever meet the standards of Shilton Banks or Seaman but like Pickford he's coming a long well. He thrives on the big occasions and very rarely let's England down at important times. 

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