Fifty years since his England debut, and 30 years since his final appearance as one of the great World Cup goalkeepers at Italia 90, Peter Shilton is in a reflective mood. Having played more times for England than anyone, Shilton retains an even more impressive world record for the most appearances made by an individual in professional football. From 1966 to 1997 he played 1,390 professional games – with his closest rivals being Brazil’s Rogério Ceni, who played in goal 1,234 times, and the midfield maestro Xavi who made 1,135 appearances – mostly for Barcelona and Spain.

Shilton played in three World Cups, where he shares the record for clean sheets after keeping out the opposition in 10 games. He also won the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest. Shilton’s mastery of the lonely art of goalkeeping has been largely jettisoned since his retirement, but he offers insights into the technical flaws of some current Premier League keepers. It still seems right for the amiable 70-year-old to start by looking back.

“After 30 years in the game there are a few things I’m really proud of,” Shilton says in a quiet Colchester hotel. “The three that really matter are the most competitive games in professional football because it shows my longevity. Winning 125 caps for England sits alongside it and the other one is the joint record of least World Cup goals conceded [most clean sheets] with Fabien Barthez. That obviously would have been the record if it hadn’t been for a certain Mr Maradona.”

Shilton sighs at the reality that, for all his records and successes, he is often remembered most for being the victim of Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God goal in a 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico City. “For me,” he says, “it’s remembered for the wrong reasons. I did everything I could and the famous photo shows that I’m closer to the ball than his head. That’s why he punched it in with this hand. You always have people saying: ‘Oh, he out-jumped you.’ He didn’t out-jump me. He cheated. So to be associated with that moment …”

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His voice trails away. Would a simple apology from Maradona have eased Shilton’s hurt? “It would have done for the England team,” he says. “It’s not just me. The whole England team suffered because he cheated. People are moaning about VAR these days but it would have been brilliant for us in that instance. He admitted to it in a roundabout way, saying it was the Hand of God. But he didn’t apologise, or show any remorse.”

Shilton turned down a request from Maradona a few years ago to appear alongside him on a television programme. “I always took that stance because I was brought up to respect the game. I’ve seen other players cheat, admit to it and apologise. But his attitude explains why there’s animosity. We’ve been offered a number of times to put it to bed. But he won’t apologise, and I won’t shake hands with him or acknowledge him. I always say he’s the greatest player in history but I don’t respect him as a sportsman and I never will. Same as Terry Butcher won’t.”

Maradona’s second goal in that game was both legal and brilliantly sumptuous in the way he dribbled past five England players before ghosting away from Shilton. He followed the Hand of God with the Goal of the Century. “It was typical of what he could do,” Shilton admits. “But we weren’t in the right frame of mind after what happened. When you know someone’s cheating, in a big match like that, your stomach drops. So we weren’t quite tuned in to our defending after that but I have to say, before the ball broke to Maradona, Glenn Hoddle was fouled. But you can’t take anything away from him. Maradona did what he’s capable of doing.”

Diego Maradona beats Peter Shilton to score his brilliant second goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.



Diego Maradona beats Peter Shilton to score his brilliant second goal against England at the 1986 World Cup. Photograph: L’Equipe/Offside

In his very different way, Shilton did what he could, year after year, and transformed goalkeeping. The Premier League was established three years before Shilton played his final game, for Leyton Orient in 1997, and it seems astonishing he had made his debut in the old First Division in May 1966. He was 16 when, with Gordon Banks preparing to win the World Cup for England that summer, he played for Leicester City against Everton.

“I made my debut in front of 30,000 and I was already quite well-known to the Leicester fans because I was a local lad. They were right behind me and I never had any problem with nerves. Me and Gordon were friends and, in a way, rivals. I watched Gordon over the years and learnt a lot – just as I watched Peter Bonetti and Lev Yashin. But I was always looking to develop my own game. It didn’t matter that there were no goalkeeping coaches then or that I didn’t even have proper goalkeeping gloves. I used string gloves. It was very basic and the goalmouths were heavy and muddy. But my mentality and work ethic were very strong. Even as a kid I would draw up training exercises to improve my footwork, one-on-ones and punching.

“I always felt there was more to the training and technical side of goalkeeping. It wasn’t just about shooting and crossing. I developed my mentality, concentration and command of the defence. Obviously it’s not just about screaming and shouting. It’s the way you give defenders confidence – while keeping them on their toes. The goalkeeper can see everything.”

Shilton pictured at Colchester Castle Park.



Shilton pictured at Colchester Castle Park. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

It seems strange that Shilton’s goalkeeping expertise was largely ignored after his retirement. “Graham Taylor took over [as England manager after Italia 90]. He wanted me to carry on but I wanted to get out at the top. He then asked me to become goalkeeping coach. So in September 1990, I started coaching Chris Woods and David Seaman for seven months. But it was too soon for me. I was playing for Derby County in what is now the Premier League and still felt as if I was the No 1 keeper.

“Near the end of my career I was player-manager at Plymouth. I was there for three and a half years and I thought I did a good job. But Plymouth is a long way away from anywhere. If I had done that job in the Midlands, I probably would have got another chance in management or coaching. I got a couple of inquiries for jobs. They said: ‘Can you send your CV in?’ I said: ‘I’ll have a chat with you, but I’m not sending in a bit of paper.’ I moved away from it but I’ve felt frustration watching goalkeepers the last 10 years.

“That’s why I made this film, called Shilton’s Secrets, because the art of goalkeeping is my obsession. The techniques of it and most of all the consistency – which is the basis of success in any sport. If you’ve got the right technique not only are you going to do great things, you’re going to avoid doing many bad things. And that’s the secret. Goalkeepers are not necessarily judged on saves. They’re judged on the amount of mistakes they make.”

Peter Shilton
(@Peter_Shilton)

Read tomorrows @guardian when I talk about my art of goalkeeping #shiltonssecrets pic.twitter.com/Bxb6P0oFxR


January 14, 2020

Shilton is hoping to get a sponsorship deal for his 43-minute coaching video because, as he says, “over the last five years I’ve been thinking: ‘I’m not quite sure what the goalkeeper’s doing there from a technique point of view.’ It’s getting worse so I’ve started to put out a few feelers for advisory work. I don’t want a full-time goalkeeping job. But to talk to keepers about some of their body movements and footwork would be interesting. If you look at Arsenal I liked the way that Jens Lehmann, their old German keeper, accepted responsibility. He didn’t hide. They’ve now got a new German keeper, [Bernd] Leno, who has done quite well. But the two goals he let in against Chelsea after Christmas summed up the technique goalkeeping has lost.

“Their training today develops quick reactions. But coaches are not telling younger Premiership goalkeepers the best way to develop their technique. The first goal Leno let in against Chelsea was a pure misjudgment. He couldn’t adjust his position at the last minute because it was all big strides. The second goal went through his legs. How many times, these days, do we see goalkeepers getting beat through their legs? It all comes down to technique. I’ve made a few overtures but I get the feeling a lot of modern-day coaches don’t want my advice.

“But the fundamentals don’t change. If keepers started doing some of the basics right they would have far better consistency. Some of their techniques now produce great reaction saves. But when there’s a shot from distance, a lot of times the keeper watches the ball. His first movement is one big stride, then dive. It’s all about split seconds now. But the first movement should be to get your feet across as quickly as you can. With quick feet you make a yard before you actually dive. Then you’re in a better position because your feet are not so wide apart. These days we have keepers diving full-length and they’re still nowhere near the ball.”

Shilton celebrates with the trophy after Forest’s 1980 European Cup win at the Bernabéu.



Shilton celebrates with the trophy after Forest’s 1980 European Cup win at the Bernabéu. Photograph: Getty Images

Which modern keepers impress Shilton? “I always liked Gigi Buffon. I think Alisson looks very good for Liverpool. In my day goalkeepers were the weak point in Brazil. Now we’ve got Alisson and Ederson as the top keepers in the Premier League. Alisson, for a big man, is very compact. He doesn’t get stretched all the time. Ederson is good but he lets in goals he could avoid. As I say in the film, you should be dancing on your feet, not jumping up and down. There are small changes many modern keepers could make that would add 15% difference to their performance.”

What does he think of England’s current No 1, Jordan Pickford? “Jordan has done well for England. He’s made some vital saves and has a really good attitude. He’s commanding and one of the most brilliant kickers of a ball I’ve ever seen. But he does things he could improve upon.”

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Shilton does not want to talk about his ardent support of Brexit, or the way in which he overcame his gambling addiction. “The gambling would need an interview on its own but, right now, I want to leave a legacy that inspires a new generation of keepers. Even today we see the importance of the keeper. Look at Liverpool. Since they’ve brought in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk they’ve gone to another level.

“Jürgen Klopp’s not that different to Brian Clough. When you’re winning games, you don’t make many changes. Klopp’s done all the hard work and he’s bought the right goalkeeper and a really good centre-half. He’s got good midfield players and strikers who are quick, sharp and score goals. In a way it’s similar to us at Forest. You keep your clean sheets and that helps the glory boys up front. If you’re letting goals in stupidly, it destroys the team. Alisson and Van Dijk are two colossuses – big, confident people. They have had a massive effect and got the best out of the other players as well. They’ve proved that football is still, fundamentally, the same. It all starts at the back. The goalkeeper is still the foundation of all your success.”

source: theguardian.com

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