The subject in question is probably football’s least talked about. Yet, it is primary in understanding the psyche and situation of a particular section of footballers, who do not know what to call themselves. How you define your profession is explaining what you do for a living. Footballers, in general, enjoy a great deal of fame and success in their lives. They are given a lot of respect and earn decent, especially in Europe. The likes of Ronaldo and Messi are the highest earning sports stars in the world. Yet, there is a particular group of people who are often ignored. We are talking about the second choice goalkeepers of a team. Being one often turns out to be one of the most frustrating experiences for many.
The difference between a second choice outfield player and goalkeeper:
Well, to be fair, not every squad member can start every match. There are some players who are crucial for the team, hence they do. At the same time, there are also some quality substitutes who can give their teams tactical advantages by coming on to the pitch. Informally, almost every club maintains a first team and a second team. The consistent performers are pushed to the first team while the others are pushed to the second team. The rotation squad is used occasionally in matches against weaker oppositions or tournaments where their progression is guaranteed.
Yet, a second team winger does not know the plight of a second team goalkeeper. The entire issue boils down to playtime. The goal is one position where you need the utmost amount of focus and sincerity. While, in other outfield positions, especially the attack relies on a few moments of brilliance. Coming back to the point, a young winger who is the second choice is often given the chance to play for a good 15-20 minutes in the end to prove their worth. This exposure to the game is significant for their development. It gives them a chance to work their way up the order and earn the first choice.
The same cannot be said about a budding young goalkeeper. If he is playing in a team with a decent set goalkeeper, he will barely get any opportunities to play for the first team. Also, substituting a goalkeeper is not feasible in any game and at any point. Therefore the only choice they are left with is to play other competitions. Even there, the top teams still go through to the last stages. The smaller teams, which get knocked out lose out. Hence, the second choice keepers of these clubs are devoid of opportunities. They cannot even put up a significant amount of performances for other clubs to notice and buy them. Therefore their skill set and career practically stagnate on the bench.
All players have their own set of aspirations. Each and every player dreams of playing for the big clubs some day. Well, goalkeepers face their biggest dilemmas when they are approached to play by the big clubs. Not every day do we see clubs buying goalkeepers for their first team. Most of these purchases are for a second choice goalkeeper. Therefore, first choice goalies from a small club have to make a big decision when offered to play for their dream clubs. They have to choose between being playing second fiddle in their dream club or continue being the alpha at their own.
Players of other positions do not have to make these choices. This can leave many goalkeepers frustrated. They get the money, the fame the trophies. But at the end of the day, they lack the self-satisfaction. They often develop psychological issues and hence affect themselves. Statistically, only 3% of matches are played by second team keepers in the domestic leagues of Europe. That amounts to around 1-2 games a year. For a few fortunate keepers(not fortunate for their team), they play around 10-11. This is one of the most worrisome stats of this side of football yet they find no mention in the day to day discussions of the game.
How can they be made happier?
To be honest, there is no real solution to this problem. The way the game has evolved over the years, this is pretty much the set structure. The players have to make a choice between play time and money/fame. Unfortunately, these players do not always have the privilege of doing both. The mental well-being of such players totally depends on how their managers deal with them. The only person effective enough to take decisions is the manager of the team. They have to strike a perfect balance to keep their second choice keepers happy and satisfied.
Here is a list of goalkeepers who play the second team for big clubs but are one of the best in the world:
- Asmir Begovic:
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