The big Colchester United interview: Rene Gilmartin

Rene Gilmartin, in his role as goalkeeping coach, before the U's pre-season friendly at Maldon & Tip

Rene Gilmartin, in his role as goalkeeping coach, before the U's pre-season friendly at Maldon & Tiptree last Saturday. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Colchester United

Rene Gilmartin has played with, and under, some big goalkeeping names during his career, especially at Watford.

Rene Gilmartin, who will be looking to give competition to fellow keeper Sam Walker, as well as fill

Rene Gilmartin, who will be looking to give competition to fellow keeper Sam Walker, as well as filling his role as goalkeeping coach. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Colchester United

Now the 30-year-old will be aiming to channel all that experience into his new dual role at Colchester United, as player/goalkeeping coach.

Gilmartin arrived at the Essex club to coincide with the start of pre-season training, and will be looking to provide competition for No. 1 choice Sam Walker, as well as embracing his new coaching position.

During his time at Watford, he was an understudy to Brazilian international Heurelho Gomes, while also working with Alec Chamberlain, the former Colchester keeper who played 221 games for the U’s between 1982 and 1987, before his switch to Everton.

The 53-year-old has been the goalkeeping coach at Vicarage Road for more than a decade – he has been with the Hornets, initially as a player, since 1996.

Watford keeper, Heurelho Gomes, in action during a Premier League match against Norwich. Rene Gilmar

Watford keeper, Heurelho Gomes, in action during a Premier League match against Norwich. Rene Gilmartin was his understudy at Vicarage Road. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

“I’ve played in every league, barring the Premier League, although I was a part of that as well,” explained Gilmartin.

“It’s not just playing, but also the experience of winning and losing, promotions and relegations. Youngsters need to know different things, especially with how relentless League Two is, so my experience in the dressing room should help them.

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“I’ve been a part of League Two, League One and the Championship, and learnt from so many experienced goalkeepers, like Clayton Ince when I was younger at Walsall, players who have played hundreds and hundreds of games.

“At Watford, I didn’t play many games, because Gomes was outstanding during the whole time I was there.

“It’s a credit to him the performances he put in, but I was training every day and was a part of the first-team squad, travelling to every game.

“You are a part of a team and part of a unit, in a dressing room with a diverse range of different characters and different nationalities.

“It was great to watch Gomes’ character in the dressing room, and how he involved people. He was multi- lingual, as small as though that might sound – in a dressing room like Watford it was brilliant.

“I was also working with different managers. It’s well documented that managers change quite a lot at Watford.

“I’m on the side looking at it, and learning off each one, learning different coaching styles and different methods and philosophies, so I didn’t waste my time.

“I’m thankful to Watford for the experience, although I think I also offered quite a lot down there, being able to give back with coaching and doing a bit with the under-18s and Under-23s.

“People like Alec Chamberlain, the goalkeeping coach, these type of people you can always learn things from.

“What a great individual Alec is, especially with all his connections at Colchester. He was thrilled when I told him that I was coming here, having the opportunity to come this way,” added Gilmartin.

Dublin-born Gilmartin was not involved in the U’s first pre-season fixture, a 2-0 win at Maldon & Tiptree on Saturday.

Sam Walker played the first-half, and Dillon Barnes the second period, although Gilmartin should enjoy some minutes under his belt during the course of pre-season – the U’s are in action again tonight, at Needham Market.

“I still want to be playing, absolutely. You train for a reason, you want to be impress in training,” continued Gilmartin, who began his professional career at Walsall in 2005.

“But there’s also that side of me now that wants to make sure that Sam (Walker) is improving, and that Sam feels good going into the start of a season, with things that he wants to work on, developing his game. The fact that I am a young goalkeeping coach, that can also be beneficial, because I am still in the game and I know what suits me.

“We are very similar physically, so I know the types of things that we need to work on. We are both strong, physical characters.

“And I think that the training has shown that over the last week, it’s been great.

“It’s up to me manage my time between my training and my coaching.

“In terms of playing in pre-season, I will have a chat with the manager (John McGreal) – he is still my manager. I’m a part of the staff, but I am also part of the playing squad as well, and I’m sure at some stage I will be out on the pitch and getting some minutes. I’m delighted to be here,” added Gilmartin.

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