Nino Severino: Goalkeepers are such a different breed
In a week that saw goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks pass, Nino reflects on Banks’ career and Nino looks at the time he spends at ITFC Academy with young keepers
I am dedicating my column this week to the legendary Gordon Banks, member of the 1966 England World Cup winning team.
After spending so much time around goalkeepers over the last year at the ITFC academy, I feel somewhat of a connection with the goalkeeping fraternity, and the outstanding sporting personalities it develops.
It’s widely accepted in the footballing world, that goalkeepers are a completely different breed to the outfield players, and its easy to see why, they make a mistake, have a momentary lapse of concentration or focus and the sound of the ball making contact with the goal net is all that’s heard. They are the final line of resistance before a goal is scored
Having this weight of responsibility, above and beyond any other player in the team, must have an effect on the personality and character of these players.
During my time at the Academy, I have had the privilege of meeting goalkeeping coach Malcolm Webster, who recently retired.
Darren Smith, new first team keepers’ coach now has the challenge of living up to Malcolm’s reputation.
Darren was mentored by Malcolm, and is already showing signs of making him very proud.
Most of my time has been spent around one of the academy goalkeeping coaches, in particular Nigel Ling. The best way I can describe Nigel is a giant of a man with a massive heart and incredible personality who possesses a love of the craft of goalkeeping coaching.
He takes the responsibility of passing his knowledge onto the young developing keepers in his charge very seriously, these lads are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated coach who is utterly committed to their goalkeeping journey.
ITFC Academy has a national reputation for the players it develops, and only this week, I attended a senior coaches meeting led by Bryan Klug who has in the past, and still is today steering and guiding the academy in an exceptional way.
You only have to look at the list of incredible goalkeepers the academy has produced, such as Richard Wright who played for Ipswich from 1995-2001, making 240 appearances, he went on to play for Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City, and also achieved caps for the England senior team.
Richard is now a member of the Manchester City goalkeeping coaching team, and still has the upmost respect for the ITFC Academy, as his goalkeeping son Harry is learning his craft with Ipswich.
The passing of Gordon Banks has led to some of the biggest stars in footballing history to comment on his exceptional life, his personality and life achievements, most notably Pele, arguably the greatest player that has ever played the game.
After the 1970 World Cup, Pele and Gordon Banks’ names were forever linked, after the world witnessed the best-ever save in footballing history.
Pele who played for the legendary Brazilian team, directed a powerful header towards the England goal, this produced the most incredible reaction, and outstanding physical dynamism from Gordon.
Pele said this week: “I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family Gordon was so proud of. I scored many goals in my life but people always like to ask about the one I didn’t score, because of that save.
“While it was indeed phenomenal my memory of Gordon is not defined by that but his friendship.
“He was a kind, warm man who gave so much to people. I am glad he saved my header because it was the start of a friendship I will always treasure. Whenever we met it was like we had never been apart.”
Pele’s words only represent what many millions of sporting fans around the world thought of this incredible man.
I myself am one of those fans, and I can vividly remember how his performances, his calmness, his dignity and the way he carried himself throughout his career affected me as a young boy watching him play.
Banks is a member of the “Old Breed”, a type of player we will probably never see again, influenced by the craft of goalkeeping only and his love and passion for the beautiful game.
In the modern sport of football, almost all Premier League players are set up for life in terms of the money they earn during their playing days, even Championship players can command incredibly lucrative contracts.
But unfortunately, not in Gordon’s days of football.
Gordon Banks, in my opinion has achieved something so much more than the millions of pounds that the modern-day footballers build up in their bank accounts, long after many of the modern millionaire players have been forgotten about, the stories of Gordon Banks will still be told, only a few will ever achieve this legendary status.