Goalkeepers Are Different

"Everything you've ever wanted to know about
goalkeepers and a little bit more"

Recommended Reading

Below is a small list of books that I have come across on my travels that I think visitors to this site would enjoy. The two coaching manuals were recommended to me by colleagues after I was asked whether or not I knew of any decent books for up-and-coming goalkeepers. The rest have kept me company on those long, cold train journeys home from various games and footy grounds around the country. The goalkeeping books come first, then a general selection of football books, followed by a few training manuals. If you like the sound of any of them, you can purchase them online from Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the links provided.

In the Way! Goalkeepers: a Breed Apart?
Nick Hazlewood's book is a superb account of the life of a goalkeeper and contains a large collection of highly entertaining annecdotes featuring such an array of talents as Gordon Banks, Pat Jennings and Lev Yashin not to mention Bruce Grobbelaar, Rene Higuita, David Icke and Pope John Paul II! It takes a light-hearted look at the pressures goalkeepers face, the dangers they confront, the pitfalls they brave and the methods they use to survive an otherwise very lonely life. Eye-opening, enthralling and informative, it is also very very funny. An enjoyable read from start to finish.
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The Goalkeeper's History of Britain
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The Goalkeeper's History of Britain is a comic blend of the personal and political seen through the eyes of former BBC Foreign Correspondent and amateur ‘keeper Peter Chapman. Based on the whimsical premise that Britain's character as an island nation finds its sporting embodiment in the shape and stance of the man between the uprights Chapman's chronicle of the 20th century weaves a funny and charming tapestry of personal recollection and saloon-bar history lesson. He argues that the game itself has waged war against the goalie - from the days when a striker could bundle keeper and ball across the goal line and score to the indignities of the passback rule - and that the best of us is found in our struggles to "keep a clean sheet". A superb read from start to finish.
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The Keeper of Dreams
The Keeper of Dreams retells the remarkable tale of German goalkeeper Lars Leese, who went from keeping goal for a non-league district side to running out at Anfield as Barnsley's first choice custodian during their brief stay in the Premiership in little over a year. The award-winning book pulls no punches as it recounts his life with the Yorkshire side but what sets this aside from your average footballing biographay is Lars Leese himself. He is alarmingly honest and not afraid of airing his own dirty linen in public. As a result, you find yourself having a genuine affection for the player, especially towards the end of the book when his alarming descent from the world of Professional football begins to have an adverse effect on his family. A thoroughly entertaining read and an enlighting insight into life as a Premiership footballer.
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The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper
Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid, traces the history of the goalkeeper, from humble beginnings in the Victorian era to the present day, exploring how the position has secured a certain existential cool, despite bing a thankless task most of the time. Some the game's greatest goalkeepers are put under microscope and examined in fine detail and the author also investigates whether history has been unfair to the much-maligned goalies of Brazil and Scotland. A must-read for anyone who has ever been a goalie.
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Rock 'n' Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League
Ian Plenderleith examines the superstars, hype, cheerleaders and razzmatazz of the North American Soccer League from its early, embryonic beginnings to the heydays of the 1970s when it lured the biggest name in the world of football to the United States. While the likes of Cruyff, Best, Beckenbauer and Pele stole the headlines, the book reveals the fortunes of average journeymen from the English and Scottish leagues who gave up a life in the reserves of the lower divisions for a life of glamour, sun and big cars. Anecdotes abound in this excellent read for all thos who remember when football in America eclipsed everything the rest of the world had to offer.
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Got, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures
If you remember Shoot's League Ladders, craved Subbuteo'a TV tower or still have your Panini sticker album from the 1982 World Cup Finals then this book is for you. Unashamedly wallowing in nostalgia, anyone who grew up following British football in the Sixties and Seventies will instantly relate to the assortment of novelty items that have long been consigned to the dustbin. The memories will come flooding back with the turn of each page as the authors remember such innovations as football boots with studs that swivled, football-themed pyjamas and the heated futuristic tent that enabled Leicester City beat the big freezes of the mid-1970s. A must of anyone that still gets goosebumps everytime they hear the opening trumpet fanfare of The Big Match.
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The Nowhere Men
Every football fan believes they are a great judge of talent and like to think they could spot the next Peter Shilton enjoying a kick around at the local park if the opportunity arose. Michael Calvin's intriguing look into the world of the humble football scout somehow manages to make the job sound like the most romantic existence imaginable. If it wasn't for the long hours driving up-and-down motorways, the diet of re-heated pies and tepid tea at grounds around the country that is. However, but for the dedication and struggles of these dedicated men, then who knows how many talents would have gone undiscovered. A fascinating read that puts the spotlight onto a much underated area of the game.
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Only a Game?
The football book that broke the mould. The 1973-4 season that began so well for the Republic of Ireland international Eamon Dunphy at Millwall ended in disillusionment and a transfer to local rivals Charlton Athletic. This is his diary recording events from the dressing room during those critical months and offers a never before seen insight into life of a professional football club during the 1970s. The anecdotes about former Manchester United and England star Gordon Hill are worth the cover price alone. A must read for all football fans, no matter who you support.
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Steak ... Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody
If you're fed up with reading ghostwritten autobiographies from today's footballing superstars, this entertaining tale of life as a professional footballer during the 1970s is the perfect anecdote. A world away from today's game, players are threatened with suspension and a fine of a week's wages for failing to shave while manager Jimmy Sirrell attempts to hold back a rampant horde of football hooligans with a bunion scalpel. The fastest car you'll find within these pages is a Ford Capri - although several players attempt to upstage this by racing back from training to Meadow Lane in whatever mode of transport is available at the time - and a solitary pineapple in the players' lounge is the nearest thing you will get to an exotic import. One of the few books to make me laugh out loud on the train journey home, "Steak... Diana Ross" is guaranteed to put a smile on your face if nothing else!
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Tor! The Story of German Football
Ah, German football. The antithesis of Brazil and the Beautiful Game - or so certain pundits would have you believe. Tor! not only dispells that theory but buries its completely, tracing the rise of German football from its humble beginnings through to the present day including accounts of Schalke 04's rise to glory in the 1930s, the 'Miracle of Berne' and the World Cup triumphs of 1974 and 1990. Well worth a read, for as Alec Baldwin says in 'The Hunt for Red October', "It is wise to study the ways of one's adversary...!"
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Passovotchka: Moscow Dynamo in Britain
In 1945, Dynamo Moscow embarked on a short tour of Britain in the name of peace...a month later they departed, leaving a trail of controversy in their undefeated wake having beaten Cardiff, Chelsea and an all-star Arsenal side that was little more than a full-strength England team with numerous guest players from around the country. This fascinating story sheds light on the state of British football at the end of the war and the thinking that surrounded the game at the time - the training sessions that consisted of little more than endless laps around the pitch and the cold chicken buffets - and paints an incredible picture of two cultures helplessly colliding both on and off the pitch. It may read like an urban myth but it really did happen.
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He Always Puts It to the Right
Although the author's tone can grate at times, He Always Puts It to the Right is quite simply the best book about penalty taking (and saving!) money can buy. All credit to the author - who sadly died before the book was published - as he undertakes an otherwise thankless task to prove that yes, you can use science to save a penalty. The results, however, seem to sugges that it is still 10% skill and 90% pure luck but we all knew that anyway. A must if you want to know the origins of the spot-kick and its development through the course of the game.
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Banksy: My Autobiography
Since retiring from football, Gordon Banks has had very little to do with the professional game, apart from a stint on the British pools panel, and it seems strange that a player so highly regarded was allowed to drift away from the sport. In this respect, you won't find much about the game after 1972 this book's not about modern day football. It's about one of the all-time greats and in this respect, you won't be disappointed. Time has not dulled Banks' memory and he can vividly recall the events that made his name all those years ago. Along with the highs and lows of his career, there's that save from Pele and he doesn't disappoint, remembering every detail of a split-second that occurred 32 years ago in Mexico. If anything, this books goes someway in demonstrating that goalkeepers don't just take off and hope for the best, but it also highlights the downside to the game with Banks' openly honest about the car crash that ended his career. Definately worth a read.
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Harry's Game: An Autobiography
The word brave has lost its meaning in the World of Football. A manager is often cited as showing great bravery for playing three strikers up front, for example. Harry Gregg climbed back into a burning aeroplane to rescue a woman and her baby plus several of his team mates yet refuses to acknowledge the bravery he showed that day. Of course, the Munich Air Disaster casts a dark shadow over this book, but Gregg doesn't shy away from the subject and describes the incident in touching detail. He also doesn't hide his resentment over how the survivors were treated by the club. Yet to concentrate on these chapters in Gregg's life would be an injustice to the career of a very talented goalkeeper. A stalwart of the Busby Babes and a key figure in the Northern Ireland squad, Gregg was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, a fact recognised by Sir Matt Busby who paid a then world record fee for the custodian.
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Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev
Formed from the ruins of Dynamo Kiev following the occupation of the Nazis during World War Two, FC Start came to represent the hopes and future of a city occupied by a brutal regime. As mad as it sounds, the Germans actually organised a football league during their occupation - consisting of several military teams from the Fatherland, Hungary and Rumania plus two Russian teams - but their bid to use this league for their own propaganda means came unstuck when the former players of Dynamo Kiev refused to lay down and die. Not your average football book by any means, and one that puts that midweek defeat away to your nearest rivals into perspective.
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Bob Wilson - Behind the Network: My Autobiography
From the highs of winning The Double with Arsenal in 1971 to the lows of the personal tragedies that have blighted his life, Bob Wilson is alarmingly honest throughout this surprisingly captivating autobiography. Unlike the majority of football books of a similar ilk, Wilson actually has a story to tell, which takes the reader on journey from his childhood in Chesterfield to his playing days with Arsenal and beyond and his life a broadcaster and presenter. He is articulate and candid throughout, reciting a story that The London Evening Standard described as "absorbing and uplifting".
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Buy it now!Goalkeepers Are Different
One for the kids (of all ages...)! Brian Glanville's superb novel about the life of a professional goalkeeper. The story follows Ronnie Blake, a rising young goalkeeper, in his career from apprentice through injury and rejection to making it to the first team and the thrill of running onto the pitch in front of a roaring Cup Final crowd. The book that gave this site it's name...
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