Alan Knight holds the record for the most appearances for a single club by a goalkeeper, having played 683 league games (and 801 games overall) for Portsmouth between 1978 and 2000. He is Portsmouths second-longest serving Portsmouth player of all time and was capped at under-21 level by England

Alan is still involved at Portsmouth Football Club and is an ambassador for the club and can be found most games co-commenting for Express FM.

Q and A with Alan Knight

You were born and grew up in London, how did you end up at Portsmouth at such a young age?

Bit of a long story short, I used to play for my school and district teams, and ended up training with Fulham and QPR in the evenings. Whilst training at Fulham a scout called Reg Lock who had links to Ray Crawford who was youth team manager at the time asked me and my parents whether I fancied a weeks trial down at Portsmouth during the school holidays. I was 13 at the time and it was just before my birthday in July. I came down for the week and ended up being offered schoolboy forms. I said I needed to think about it, plus I wanted out of courtesy to speak with both Fulham and QPR and tell them of Portsmouth’s interest and they basically said good luck and wished me well. So I ended up signing on my 14th Birthday which which meant me coming down in the school holidays staying in digs with the other lads and at weekends my parents would drive me down to the games. I then spent two years as an associate schoolboy then signed as an apprentice on my 16th Birthday and the rest they say is history or 801 appearances if you want to be more precise.

You made your League debut at Rotherham while still 16 years old, but you were under consideration to make F.A.Cup history the previous season in the Second Round v Minehead on 11th December 1976 as the youngest player ever in the F.A.Cup proper at the age of 15 years and 161 days. The 2 senior goalkeepers Graeme Lloyd and Phil Figgins were injured, which left 2 very untried youngsters who had played for the youth team, yourself and Paul Bennett. Paul Bennett was selected, but how close were you to being selected for this match?

Fairly close, but in all honesty I think Paul was always going to be the one that was going to play. I think the club used it as a bit of a publicity stunt at the time to say a young kid could possibly end up playing in the game, but it was always going to be Paul and I think he ended up having a good game by all accounts from what I remember. Strangely enough I did nearly end up playing in the FA Cup for Kingstonians around this time as I wasn’t getting many games in Pompeys Youth Team and they had a similar goalkeeping crisis whilst I was there with the senior keepers getting injured thus only leaving myself. They did contact the club to ask for permission but Pompey refused them as I guess they didn’t want me cup tied.

What sort of gloves did you use as a youngster at this time, with the latex palmed gloves not being available yet?

Prior to the Peter Bonetti gloves being brought out I used gardening gloves that were orange and had a criss cross pattern on the palm and were absolute useless especially when it started raining, then along came the green cotton Peter Bonetti ones, also the table tennis style he brought out that had the pimples on the palm, again useless and were only good to keep your hands warm on a cold day. Todays gloves have come a long way since the 70s thats for sure, but at the time whether it was bare hands or cotton gloves it taught you the art of catching a ball properly in all conditions.

How did you become aware of these latex gloves a few years later, and when you first tried them how better did they seem compared to bare hands and the gloves you had been using?

I first came across the latex palm gloves through Peter Mellor as we were sponsored by Gola at the time and they had given him some pairs to use, they were black and white and had a big G on the backhand. He gave me a pair to try and to be honest they were pretty basic and had a thin palm but were a massive step up from the green cotton Bonettis. Then I moved on to a pair of Adidas (Curkovic) that were black with a white pimpled palm, which I found in a sports shop close to where I used to live back home in Streatham and they were very expensive compared to the cheap cotton ones. I also managed to buy some pairs from Peter Anderson Sports in Elm Grove (Portsmouth) as they were able to order them in direct from somewhere. This was a time when there wasn’t any sponsorship for gloves from the major companies and I normally had to buy my own or go cap in hand to the club and ask them to buy me some pairs. I was lucky in that the club advertised in the programme to ask supporters if they would be interested in sponsoring my gloves and it was great that people did this for me and the other keepers especially as they didn’t last long and we would go through quite a few pairs a season. Later on when I was established in the team I was supplied gloves free of charge by Dave at Sukan Sports and this varied from Uhlsport to Reusch plus the ones like Sepp Maier that had the S on the backhand.

Was there a lot of talk amongst goalkeepers about these gloves, and if you saw the opposing goalkeeper wearing them did you make a point of checking what they were, and how you could get a pair?

I didn’t no, but I know they do nowadays but at the time I was only interested about my team mates and didn’t really go out the way to make friends with players from other clubs. It was just a case of shaking hands after the game then on to the next game. I did sometimes notice but never really paid much attention at the time and it was only through Peter (Mellor) did I get that first taste of a different style of glove. It kind of changed over the years when other keepers came to the club and I would see what gloves they were wearing and then I would try other styles and brands.

When you broke into the senior ranks at Portsmouth the first choice was Peter Mellor. Did you get any specialist coaching, or was it left for Peter to decide what he wanted to do, and the other goalkeepers joined him?

Yes, it was basically down to Peter as to what he wanted to do. Normally this was at the end of the morning and sometimes we would get together with Frank Burrows who was manager at the time and go through handling and crosses, and this was normally mixed in with 5 a side games and shooting drills but we didn’t have any real specialist coaching, we just worked each other. A bit later on once Peter had left Bobby Campbell brought in Mike Kelly who at the time was one of the first breed of Goalkeeper coaches and he would come in a couple of times a week whilst working freelance at other clubs and he was a right task master. He absolute killed me in sessions and to be honest I wasn’t that upset when he got a full time job somewhere else as he would make my life hell. He didn’t care that I had just been on a 10 mile run or had spent an hour diving around on shooting drills, he just used to get the balls out and work me till I was sick. To be fair there were a few things he picked up on my game which were of great help and whether he was being hard on me to toughen me up or just didn’t like me I don’t know, but at the time I found these sessions weren’t for me and like I said the day I found out he got a new job I wasn’t shedding many tears thats for sure!

In the early 1980's Gola were the club's kit suppliers. Peter Mellor wore Gola gloves for a time, do you know how this came about and did you ever wear them or try them out yourself? As far as I know they were never offered for general sale.

I think it all came about due to us being sponsored by Gola at the time and they gave some gloves to Peter as he was first choice and they were trying to do something new as they were already doing kits, boots and balls so I guess gloves were something they wanted to try. Also I think Les Allen the clubs commercial manager at the time had a hand in this (no pun intended) as his brother Kenny was a keeper down at Bournemouth at the time and I think he was wearing them too.

You sometimes used Uhlsport or Reusch jerseys in matches, rather than the club's official suppliers products. Was this because you felt they were better quality, or wished to help promote the brands who supplied you with gloves? In my opinion some of the jersey designs that the official club suppliers had were pretty awful, did you ever get a chance to express an opinion in advance as to what you would like to wear, the style or colours, or were you just presented with a jersey and shorts during pre-season?

I didn’t get much say in the styles or colours as you could probably tell by some of the shockers I was given to wear. The Uhlsport Jerseys came about because the Admiral one I was given in that season we had in Division One was awful, it was yellow and had black flappy collars which was like one of my old school shirts, I am sure you can find a photo somewhere! It was also good wearing the Uhlsport one as they could see I was promoting their products and helped my case when I went back asking for more gloves. I think I even went back to wearing the previous seasons Umbro jersey in the first few games as I refused to wear the Admiral one, and we even went as far as having the Umbro logo covered over. I even used to take my own shirt home to wash so it wouldn’t get lost or used by anyone else, I probably drove Gordon Neave mad at times! You wouldn’t be able to get away with it now as all the kit companies insist on the keeper wearing the same make. I think my favourite was the one we wore the season we got to the semis of the FA Cup made by Influence, sadly it wasn’t to be a lucky jersey though!

You played in all 4 Divisions and at a large number of grounds. Apart from Fratton Park did you have any favourites?

I suppose I would have to say Boundary Park Oldham, not the most glamorous of grounds but I always seem to have a good game when we played there. Old Trafford and White Hart Lane were always the other two I liked playing at.

The next question is obviously which grounds were your least favourite, and my guess is that Plough Lane, Wimbledon will top this list because of the horrendous injury and unfortunate own goal you suffered there?

Yes, your right plus it was my local ground to where I was brought up. We always knew we were in for a battle when we went there. Dave Beasant would be launching balls from all angles into the box and you had John Fashanu and Eric Young coming in at you with elbows at the ready. I am not saying it was deliberate that day, but it was their style of play and they played to their strengths and they played within the rules to a point. Bally used to say it was good against evil in footballing terms. I was never one for coming for crosses but Bally had me wound up to command my area and on this occasion I came out to claim a ball and as you know I ended up second best with Eric Young leaving his mark on me! Fair play to Bally he soon got my confidence back and had me diving at peoples feet in training as soon as the face had healed up, but he didn’t manage to get me coming crosses again though! The own goal which Blakey scored has gone down in folk lore and is often brought up in conversations, its just lucky the cameras weren't at every ground back in them days as I am sure it will still be shown today most weeks!

Nowadays all clubs in the same League use the same ball, but most of your career each club would make an individual choice. Did you notice much difference between the various makes, and would you find out which ball your next opponents used, and train with the same ball prior to the game?

No, we never knew until we turned up on the day and it ranged from the good old Mitre Multiplex to the Adidas Tango balls. We didn’t even know ourselves for home games as it was normally what balls we had left in the cupboard. Gordon Neave would sometimes let me have a look at the ball before the game to give me a clue but that was the best it got. I did like the Adidas one though, it was a good looking ball and nice to strike!

You experienced a glove bag and its contents being stolen from the net, what were the circumstances?

I vaguely remember it was an away game somewhere, Huddersfield I think and when I went back into the net at the end of the game it had gone. I guess someone had jumped over the barrier and helped himself whilst play was up the other end. I suppose if he has still got it he could send it back via the club that would be great and I will stick them on ebay as I am sure they must be worth something now!

In 1997 a "Legend 601" shirt was advertised for sale by mail order in the Portsmouth programme, after you had overtaken Peter Bonetti's record of the most Football League games by a goalkeeper for one club. Was this your idea or did somebody approach you with the idea? How well were the shirts received and did they sell well?

This was all down to Trevor Inch who was an apprentice keeper in his younger days at the club. He had ended up in marketing or promotions I think around this time and he got in contact with the club with this great idea. I am sure it ended up a big disaster and they hardly sold any which was not surprising. I guess there are probably a few hundred still in Trevors garage gathering dust now!

Finally....given your autobiography ended telling your story around 2002 are there any plans to produce an updated version?

Yes I am seriously thinking about it and plan to speak to a few people in the new year to discuss things more, it would be good to get the last 13 years down on paper as a lot has happened both on a personal front and at the club….. watch this space I guess.

Many thanks to Alan for taking the time to answer our questions and Dave and Rob for arranging the Interview and coming up with the questions.


Simon Smith began his professional career with Newcastle United in 1978, spending four years there before moving on to Whitley Bay F.C and then Gateshead F.C in the GM Vauxhall Conference, where he played 501 games over a ten year period. Simon also signed as a non-contract player for Carlisle United F.C., Sunderland A.F.C. and Newcastle United F.C.

Simon started working at Newcastle United in 1993 as a Goalkeeping Coach, working with goalkeepers from the age of 8 –19. In the summer of 1999, Simon became First Team Goalkeeping Coach working under Ruud Gullit and Sir Bobby Robson. Simon was Sir Bobby Robson’s goalkeeping coach over a five year period from 1999 to 2004 coaching in The Premier League with goalkeepers Shay Given, Steve Harper, Lionel Perez, John Karelse and Tony Caig. During this period, Simon prepared and coached the senior goalkeepers for over 300 Premiership matches and 40 European games in the Inter Toto, UEFA Cup and Champions League.

Simon has also worked with professional goalkeepers at Sunderland A. F.C., Carlisle United F.C., Wigan Athletic, Hartlepool United F.C. and LA Galaxy.

Simon works for The Football Association as one of the National Goalkeeping Coaches working with England Teams between the ages of 16 – 21. Simon delivers both specialist goalkeeping coaching courses and specific goalkeeping sessions on UEFA coaching courses from UEFA ‘C’ to UEFA ‘A’ standard. Simon works with some of the best young goalkeepers in the country. He has also worked as Goalkeeping Coach to the England Ladies Football Team.

Q and A with Simon Smith

When growing up as a youngster were you always a goalkeeper, and if not how did the change come about?

I started on the left wing being left footed and quite a quick runner. The change came when I wanted to play with my older brother and his friends and being three years younger I had to go in goal. I enjoyed it and must have been ok as I was picked to play again!!

Did you gain any representative honours as a youngster, and what brought you to the attention of Newcastle United that they wanted to sign you?

I lived in Scotland during my early football career, I represented Lanarkshire County and the West of Scotland and had I stayed would possibly have played for Scotland Schoolboys! I also signed 'S' Forms with St Mirren. When my parents decided to move back to Newcastle, the manager of St Mirren, Alex Ferguson, now Sir Alex Ferguson, wrote me letter of recommendation and Newcastle United offered me a trial on the back of his letter! I also represented Northumberland at U18 level at the age of 15.

Did you start as an apprentice before becoming a full time professional, and who were the other goalkeepers at the club at that time.

I signed for Newcastle United as an associate schoolboy, left school at 15 to take up an apprenticeship, two years as an apprentice, two and a half years as a professional. The goalkeepers at the club when I left where; Kevin Carr, Steve Hardwick.

You joined Newcastle United before the latex gloves were available in the U.K., what styles and makes of gloves were you wearing as a schoolboy, and how and when did you become aware of the latex gloves?

My first gloves where a pair of black 'wool' gloves knitted by my mother as I had seen Peter Shilton wearing a black pair of gloves (when he made the save from Kenny Dalglish, England v Scotland at Wembley. ) 'Proper' goalkeeping gloves; green cotton, orange nylon with green table tennis rubber on the back of the fingers only, Gordon Banks, red back, white palm with green table tennis rubber on the fingers and palm and also on the back of the fingers. First time aware of latex...Peter Shilton wearing adidas Curkovic Pro ? My first pair where Uhlsport £20 black back with white latex on the fingers and uhlsport logo with white smooth palm!

While a Newcastle United player did you receive any specialist goalkeeping coaching from anyone, and what was the training like compared to what you introduced years later when you became the goalkeeping coach?

As a player at Newcastle United I received no goalkeeping coaching at all; you where left to your own devices and learnt from making mistakes and watching other goalkeepers either at the club or on TV! I was of the era of goalkeepers just before 'goalkeeping coaching' became available!

Unfortunately you never made the first team at Newcastle United, but did you ever come close to doing so, and which of the club's teams did you generally play for?

West Ham at St James in League One...1982...unfortunately no gk sub so never made the bench but was part of the squad. In my last season I had a great spell in the reserves with the likes of Chris Waddle, Mick Martin and Colin Suggett, keeping 8 clean sheets in 13 games! Then got released that summer!! Apart from that I played most of my time in the Newcastle United Youth Team called the 'N's'.

When you were released did you try, or have an opportunity, to go to another Football League club?

I went to Carlisle United for pre season and they wanted me to go on tour with them to the Isle of Man; unfortunately they couldn't pay me so I signed for Whitley Bay in the Northern League and earned the same as I did at Newcastle as a professional and hoped for another chance!

After a couple of years you ended up at Gateshead, and had the remarkable record of playing in over 400 consecutive games for them. Were you fortunate and fit enough not to get any injuries, or was it a case on many occasions of trying to ignore the pain and discomfort, and just carry on playing?

I was extremely lucky with injuries; never having an injury that stopped me from playing, but definitely played injured with dislocated fingers or a dead leg!

You were one of the early customers that Sukan Sports had, and kindly continued to order for several years. You ordered a wide variety of styles and sizes, perhaps you were ordering for other people as well, but do you have a favourite style from those days and have you kept any of the gloves and clothing as keepsakes?

Here we go; Sukan Sports, white with sky blue trim with sky blue 'S', Uhlsport 031 black, white all foam glove, Uhlsport 034 as worn by Pat Jennings, Umbro Grobbelaar Pro flo yellow with green, white palm, Puma 'David James' white, black and green and Reusch purple pu with white palm, Uhlsport white with pink back and Uhlsport 'Walter Zenga' white palm with navy back and then nike and adidas came along. Unfortunately I didn't keep anything apart from an Asics Gateshead FC goalkeeping jersey...multi coloured!

When you were playing at Newcastle United, and indeed Gateshead, did the club ever supply you with a quantity of gloves or re-imburse you for the gloves that you bought with your own money?

I always bought my own gloves and yes, at both Newcastle United and Gateshead they gave me a 'contribution' towards my gloves.

When did you start to get involved with coaching, and who did you coach that brought you to the attention of Newcastle United, for them to employ you as a coach?

At the age of 30 I decided I had had enough of playing traveling the length and breath of the country Saturday after Saturday. I enrolled on a Sports Studies Degree at Northumbria University and that gave me the opportunity to started my coaching qualifications and do some practical coaching at Newcastle United Centre of Excellence....John Carver, who I had played with both at Gateshead FC and Newcastle United was Centre of Excellence Director and it was he who got me involved! By the end of my Degree I had got most of my coaching qualifications, become a 'jobing' goalkeeping coach at Carlisle United and Hartlepool United and was still doing NUFC Centre of Excellence. I had also started working part time for the FA both on their Excellence Programme and with International Teams on both the men's and women's side.

While coaching at Newcastle United, were you asked for your opinion on who should play in goal for the various teams, whether anyone should be dropped or rested, or indeed if a new goalkeeper needed to be signed were you asked for suggestions as to who should be approached?

Good question; yes is the answer, any goalkeeping issues or matters firstly with Ruud, he sent me scouting for a new goalkeeper in my first pre season and I had to watch a goalkeeper and say yes or no which I did and nearly spent a million pounds of the clubs money...the deal didn't go through! With Sir Bobby he would come to me and ask my opinion on who should play and how they had worked during my sessions and you had to be able to back up your opinion. He allowed me to bring in Tony Caig from Carlisle United as a 'back up' goalkeeper. I had worked with Tony at Carlisle and knew he was capable of doing the job and that he would be good for the group of goalkeepers in had at the time and Sir Bobby supported that.

After your playing career appeared to be over you were signed on non-Contract forms by 3 different League clubs. Did you ever get to play for any of these clubs, or was it more as cover in case of an emergency?

Some may say I had a better playing career as coach than I did as a player! I signed for Carlisle United and sat on the bench at Gillingham away. I signed for Sunderland AFC and played in the reserves and I also signed for Newcastle United twice and nearly sat on the bench at Arsenal away and to complete the set played for Middlesborough in a pre-season friendly to help them out!

You have coached at many different levels, is there as much satisfaction in seeing a young child drastically improve with your help, as seeing an International goalkeeper making a slight improvement through your involvement?

Great satisfaction in both! Helping young goalkeepers achieve their potential and producing a performance with the seniors probably sums it up!

When coaching at Newcastle United, if they signed a goalkeeper from overseas was the coaching that you gave them different to what they had been used to, and were you able to obtain some new ideas from them which you could then incorporate into your own system?

I would like to answer that question from a different perspective if I may? Before I got the job full time at Newcastle United as 1st Team Goalkeeping Coach the club asked me if I would do some work with Pavel Srnicek, he had fallen out of favour with the manager! I took him several times 1 to 1 and it was a great education for me in how goalkeepers from Eastern Europe had been brought up and trained...the best example which I have taken on, used and taken forward again was diving technique. Getting a cross and forward to attack the ball and narrow the angle with your dive...thank you Pav! I have found over the years and through experience that the principles of goalkeeping technique don't change...we may need to adapt and add to i.e. working with the ball at your feet, but the basics don't change.

I believe that you have been involved in helping glove brands to improve their products, have you ever produced your own brand of gloves for selling at your courses and through your website?

No, I have been very lucky that Simon Smith Goalkeeping has been supported by nike and adidas, although in the very early days I did sell Uhlsport gloves and clothing on my courses. Over the past few years I have been able to speak to the designers at nike about cut, fit, palms and colours which I have really enjoyed!

What is your general opinion of the present gloves, compared to what was available when you were playing?

The selection of brands of gloves has increased massively with lot of smaller brands appearing but the actual palm technology hasn't changed much. I still feel adidas (should I be saying this!!) are strong now and have been a leading company in goalkeeping glove evolution; fingersave, fingertip, two coloured palms, two types of foam on one palm!

Many thanks to Simon for taking the time to answer our questions and Dave and Rob for arranging the Interview and coming up with the questions.


Keith Granger is a Goalkeeping Consultant, who owns and runs the “Football Garage” based down on the South Coast. He has worked with many professional clubs including Southampton FC from 1st Team down to the Academy, and is currently a Coach Educator for the English FA along with goalkeeping scout for the 14 to 21 year age groups. Keith recently presented at this years Goalkeeping Conference at St Georges Park on the subject of “Vision and Decisions in Goalkeeping”. This has also been delivered to many professional clubs across the country, along with many Football Associations across Europe.

Keith Granger signed as an apprentice for Southampton in July 1985, and started the 1985-86 season as goalkeeper for the Youth team who were for the first time playing in the South Eastern Counties League Division 2. In previous seasons the clubs Youth or third team, played as Southampton "A" in the Hampshire League.

The season started well for the Youth team and they were soon at the top of the League. Their 10th game of the season was at home to Brighton in the morning of 2nd November 1985 and Keith was continuing his ever present record in goal. In the first half of this match, about 10 minutes before half-time, Keith brought down a Brighton forward outside the penalty area and was sent off for the tackle which sadly had also injured Keith's knee.

With Phil Parkinson, later to play for Bury and Reading and now the Bradford City manager, going in goal the Southampton team still managed to win the game 1-0. Keith's unavailability because of the injury caused a few problems in finding a suitable replacement, but Nigel Barnes became the preferred choice, although for the match at Oxford on 14th November 1985 because of a transport mix-up he missed the match and top scorer Matt Le Tissier played the whole game in goal, which ended 2-2.

The knee continued to cause problems and it took time to get a clear diagnosis, but he had an operation just before Christmas 1985 which revealed a torn cartilage. This was repaired and a small amount of bone tissue removed, and the expectation was that he would not be fit for at least a couple of months.

Peter Shilton was very much the first choice and for most of the 1985/86 season Phil Kite had been the reserve, but Phil had gone on loan to Middlesbrough in March 1986, but the club had got in as a replacement for him a young Tim Flowers on loan from Wolves in April 1986. Then the Wolves goalkeeper Scott Barrett got injured and Tim Flowers was recalled by Wolves.

Before the next match away to Everton on 3rd May 1986 it became apparent that Peter Shilton was not fully fit, and with the World Cup on the near horizon it was decided that he could not be risked, leaving the most experienced goalkeeper at the club Keith Granger, who was still an apprentice, had never even played for the Reserves just the Youth team, and had just played a few matches in the last month after almost 5 months out with a bad knee injury.

The team were in mid table but on a bad run having only won 1 of their last 9 games, whilst Everton were in 2nd place.

Keith played in the match at Everton, who won 6-1, before a crowd of 33,057. I don't think that anyone who knew the circumstances blamed Keith for anything. Three of the regular back four were injured so the defence in front of him was not the strongest, with another apprentice the 16 year old Allen Tankard, making his 3rd appearance as a full-back. Everton needed to win and if Liverpool had lost away to Chelsea then Everton would win the league! Another point worth noting is that Keith was quoted as being 5' 10" tall and weighing 10st 10lbs, a bit different from the giants who play in goal these days. Bobby Mimms was in goal for Everton.

The next day, Sunday 4th May 1986, Southampton had an open day at the Dell which all the players including Keith had to attend, and he knew that he would also be playing in the final first team game away to Tottenham the next day, Monday 5th May 1986, which Tottenham won 5-3 before a crowd of only 13,036.

The following season 1986-87 saw Keith back in the Youth team in the South Eastern Counties League Division 2, and although Southampton had won the League the previous season, Division 1 and 2 were separate from each other and winning Division 2 did not get you promoted to Division 1. Southampton did win the League again in 1986-87 even more convincingly than the previous season.

Keith was one of 18 trainees (what apprentices were now called) at the start of the 1986-87 season, and did become a full professional in October 1986. He also played 3 games in the F.A.Youth Cup and made his debut for Southampton Reserves in a 3-1 win at home to Bristol Rovers on 13th September 1986, and in total made 14 appearances for the Reserves during the season.

At the end of the 1986-87 season the Youth team including Keith went to a tournament in Germany, which they won with Keith having a brilliant tournament producing save after save and a match winning save in the last minute of the final. At the last home first team match of the season against West Ham on 4th May 1987 the Youth team was presented to the crowd in recognition of this Tournament win and them winning their League by a substantial margin, losing only 2 of their 28 matches, scoring 113 goals and conceding only 23.

In December 1987 Keith went on loan to Darlington, and then made it a permanent move in March 1988 becoming first choice at Darlington. However in the second match of the 1988-89 season another very bad knee injury happened, and this eventually led to him having to retire from League football.

A very short but eventful playing career, but now he is firmly established as a top coach.

Q and A with Keith Granger

Prior to joining Southampton had you won any representative honours as a schoolboy, and had you always been a goalkeeper?

I started playing in goal at the age of 9 as no one else wanted to (JUST LIKE MANY OTHERS!) I played for teams that won many local cups, leagues and tournaments representing Southampton Schools, Hampshire Schools, plus playing for the South of England of England reprehensive side in friendly fixtures. I also came 4th out of 65,OOO in a competition named 'SUPERKIDS' which was on NATIONAL TV, this was a junior version of SUPERSTARS hosted by Brendan Foster, Lawrie Mcmenemy, Kevin Keegan & Donna Murrey.

When you were in the Youth team how much contact did you have with the first team players, so how well did you know the senior players when making your League debut?

I was fortunate enough to train everyday with the goalkeepers and filled in with the senior teams whenever they needed a keeper for shooting drills and set plays…we had a good relationship with the senior players as we cleaned their boots and kit and they were always on hand for advice and support.

Did you join in with Peter Shilton and Phil Kite for specialist goalkeeping training, was their a specialist goalkeeping coach or did Peter Shilton take charge?

Yes I was very lucky to learn from the best, and the coaching was coordinated by Peter.

Did Peter Shilton, or John Burridge and Tim Flowers, go out of their way to help you and give advice, and did they ever pass on any gloves (either new or used) to you?

Yes they were all brilliant to me and true professionals. They were all different characters as well. Shilts had a presence about him that was selfish in terms of getting what he wanted from the training sessions, aswell as being the perfect teacher. Budgie was so committed and maximised every quality he had, just being around him gave you total belief in yourself. They were both protective and legends in my book. Tim was learning his trade as well and was a combination of both Shilts and budgie, a brilliant keeper and a decent person as well. They all encouraged and looked after me very well. (How lucky was I to be brought up under the likes of Shilts, budgie and Tim?) I knew even then that I didn’t’t want to be like one of them in particular but i wanted to take the best parts of all of them and add it to what i stood for. (Still to this day, I have totally respect for these gents)

When trying to recover from your knee injury you had Joe Jordan for company, I assume that this helped both of you, was this the case?

Yes definitely, Joe was an inspirational man. He pushed me to full recovery and I like to think I helped him by matching his work ethic and will to win back our fitness. He was an unbelievable professional. (Don’t tell him, it was me who hid his teeth on the odd occasion!)

I think you had been back playing for less than a month before your first team debut, how fit were you and did you have full confidence in the strength of your knee?

You are correct Dave, I played one game against Wimbledon Youth and was very pleased with my performance. Loads of long balls, long throw ins and plenty of physical battles (the usual Wimbledon experience!). We always enjoyed playing them…I was passed fit and never really paid much attention to my injury as I had very strong inner belief and psychological strength that only allowed me to focus on the present.

It was quoted that Peter Shilton would not be risked because of a slight thigh strain, how much notice did you get that you were going to be playing, and was it always assumed that you would be playing in both games or was there a chance that Peter would recover for the Tottenham game?

As soon as I heard that Peter was not available for selection, I went straight up to the managers office (Chris Nicholl) and told him to play me and said “I won’t let you down” . I think he was taken back that a young 17 year old kid had the balls to knock on his door with such confidence. He smiled at me and said “I will come back to you Keith”. He then approached me later that day and told me to have a look at the team sheet in the 1st team dressing room. My name was up there in black and white replacing Shilts! I then had an hour to get home find my suit and be back ready to travel up to Everton.

Do you know if the club tried to get someone else in on loan, or were they always confident that you deserved the chance and would be able to handle the situation?

They may have tried but I wasn’t aware of anything to tell me otherwise …I’d like to think that by going to the managers office that morning swayed his decision in giving me a chance.

As your Youth matches were played at the University, had you in fact ever played in a match at the Dell before this debut at Goodison?

Yes quite a few times in cup matches and with local schools sides and county games for Hampshire.

Season 1986-87 you were back with the Youth team, was this difficult to adapt back to?

No not at all as we were brought up to be respectful, grounded and decent people under the guidance of Dave Merrington. He set us high standards so there was never any chance of that happening. Dave was great for us and I enjoyed immensely my time playing for him and helping me to grow as a young man. We all got our standards from Dave, he was the master!

The Youth team, like many Southampton has had over the years, had a lot of success and with Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer, Rod Wallace and in those days Francis Benali was even scoring goals, was concentration while the ball was at the other end a big factor in your learning process?

Yes that’s a good point, we had a decent team but played against decent teams as well, so I did have plenty to do. My belief is that a GK should affect the game when involved and even more when not involved. So this definitely helped me. It was always good to know however we performed at the back, there was goals in our team from all over the park.

How did the loan to Darlington come about, were you actively looking to go somewhere on loan or did Darlington come looking for you?

Darlington needed a top young GK so they come looking for me (ha ha)! Well, truthfully they wanted to take Tim Flowers first but he turned down the loan…so I jumped at the chance. First team football for a month sounded great. However, I didn’t’t have a clue where Darlington was but I knew I just wanted to play first team football!

When you changed the loan into a permanent transfer was there a fee involved between the clubs?

I would like to say big money changed hands, but it didn’t! I stayed on for a second month and things were going well for me, we got up to 2nd in the league and I was learning all the time and enjoying every moment of my football. I was having nice things said to me, written about me and I knew that I was not ready to jump over Tim or Budgie so I agreed to sign permanently. We were playing on a Friday night away to Tranmere and both the manager (Chris Nicholl) and the late Tony Barton came to watch me. I was really pleased with my performance and recall them both saying for a young keeper to go in and play as well as i did was a real big thing…. They told me that Darlington wanted to sign me and they wanted a £25,000 fee. I remember hearing Tony Barton saying to Chris Nicholl “give the kid a chance, he’s a great lad, let him go for £15,000” And that’s what I was sold for…a bargain in today’s market!

The knee injury that sadly basically ended your playing career was I believe to the left knee as the earlier injury had also been, was there any connection between the two injuries and was the one at Darlington more serious because of the earlier problem?

Yes my injury at Darlington was too serious to allow me to train every day and play full time. I don’t believe the two were connected, but I do know I had my dream taken away from me at an early age. I did try to carry on for a few seasons in non league with Basingstoke, Newport IOW & Farnborough but my knee eventually won the day.

You are now coaching which I assume gives you great satisfaction, who are you involved with?

Yes I went into coaching early on opening a Goalkeeping school with my good pal David Coles we called it ‘In Safe Hands’ but we were both under pressure to find full time jobs so we had to make a decision to end it.

I have been involved in coaching since I retired from playing, coaching at Southampton from the 1st team down to the Academy. Working with the Scottish FA international squads and at present working with the English FA in coach education, this involves coaching at their goalkeeper camps. In addition to this I am the England scout, watching reporting on goalkeepers in the 14-21 age group. I also own and run “The Football Garage” which looks after and coaches players from parks football all the way up to the professional game.

One of the presentations I deliver, is the “Vision & Decisions in goalkeeping” and this is something I recently presented at the 2015 goalkeepers conference at St Georges park, plus I have delivered this around the world to many clubs and Football Associations, and have received positive feedback on this. We also specialise in Motivation & Peak performance for professional goalkeepers and in service training for clubs and coaches.

Finally, you wouldn't expect me to finish without mentioning gloves. Did you have a favourite style when you were playing and what do you think of the present day gloves?

Yes I had my favourite pair they were the green UHL palms ‘Shilts used to wear’ I think it was the 021? And the purple and white with white soft palms the 036? .. You should know Dave as you were the man who looked after us all, which I would like to thank you again for. You were known as Mr Gloves!! I was lucky enough to get gloves given to me by Shilts & Budgie but Tim would only give me advice not the gloves!!!

Many thanks to Keith for taking the time to answer our questions and Dave and Rob for arranging the Interview and coming up with the questions.

David Coles (2010)

1:What is it like to be able to coach the current England number one and what types of drills and techniques do you implement on a daily basis to keep James motivated and interested?

We have a set programme on a weekly basis, which includes all aspects of goalkeeping work. That is technically, tactically, psychologically and physically. David is a very highly motivated person so I try and implement new training practices on a weekly basis to train all of these areas of his game, plus the other keepers at the club.

2: What gym work does David do? Is he a fan of core strength and are you personally?

David is a fantastic athlete and you don’t get his frame without working hard in the gym? My problem is keeping him out of it even when he is meant to be resting? We use core stability on a regular basis during our sessions on the grass and in the gym and yes both David and myself are big fans of it.

3: In the sells DVD we hear you calling “HANDS” a fair few times. Can you tell us how this saying comes about?

My Shouting of HANDS in the sells DVD will be a reminder to the goalkeeper and myself. I feel that if he should caught the ball then this is my trigger word.

4: What in your opinion is the most important for the goalkeeper footwork or agility?

Both too me are equally important no footwork means you don’t get to the ball to make a save or take a cross. With agility it’s the same no agility means lack of power, speed, spring and strength. All these components are equally as important if you move your feet but cant dive you cannot deal with the ball.

5: Do you think too much emphasise is put on the goalkeeper’s height? If so do you think some goalkeepers are slipping through the system?

There is a big emphasise on height at all levels now days, managers are more aware of a goalkeeper’s height more than their personal abilities. I’ve been lucky enough to work with two top class goalkeepers in David James and Antti Niemi who both excelled in all aspects of their game, but have big presence when they play in goal. David is a fantastic presence in size and reach, where as Antti had to make up for his lack of inches with fantastic agility and speed around his goal. Both have different heights yet both filled the goal during the game and training.

6: When training young keepers, what is the most important thing you look for?

Quiet simple really whether they enjoy playing in goal? Then I look at if they technically have the skills, tactically do they understand their own personal role within in that team and what is required of them in it. Are they physically capable at their age group to play in that position, socially how they react to people around them peer pressure, instructions from coaches or managers. Psychologically, if they make a mistake how they deal with it and what happens with the next situation that arises in the game. But I already have in place a development of identifying each child at each age group in each of the four corners I work from.

7: Firstly and quickly, thank you for all your purchases from Sukan Sports over the years. You have seen many changes in goalkeeper’s gloves from starting your professional career with Birmingham City to now coaching at premier league clubs. Have they improved during your time in your opinion, what do you look for in a glove and do you have an all time favourite? In addition to your league career in England you also played in Finland for a short time. What is your happiest memory from this time in Helsinki?

Firstly Dave, you’re a legend when it comes to gloves and were always there when I needed a fix! Yes, gloves have changed a lot there are better designs and the grips have been modified to adapt to the ever-changing ball. I have always preferred flat palms due to what I think is a bigger contact area, but I’m not adverse to the negative cut or roll fingers as they all have different qualities. My favourite gloves would have to be the Chris Woods Reusch flat palms with yellow and red on the back and Reusch written in the middle. My time in Helsinki was an exciting one as not many English keepers were asked to play abroad; my highlight was playing in the European cup-tie against F.C Porto. The club had lost the first leg 3-0 in Portugal, unfortunately I did not play and was left on the bench but I played second leg in Helsinki and we won 2-0. When I was at Southampton Antti gained a copy of the game I played and made all of the team watch it at dinner? And you guessed I never ever lived it down? On a quick note to you, David James is a big collector of gloves so any spare old ones you have I’m sure he would find room to improve his collection?

8: What are the most common recurring problems you see in goalkeepers in general today?

Goalkeeper’s who come outside the line of their near posts on angled shot stopping, its my pet hate. They end up incorporating and making the goal bigger by leaving it unguarded, giving the forward an easier option to cut the ball back or slide it through the goalkeeper who is so close to the ball that he as less time to react. We have an awful lot of goalkeeper’s who have a habit of chasing the ball, rather than transferring the pressure and get the forward to beat the keeper.

9: How big an influence was working on the Mervyn Day GK School in the 90’s? As a previous attendee it was a great influence on me as a young goalkeeper and now me working as a GK coach running a similar school in South Wales?

Mervyn was a massive influence in me quitting my non-league days early and beginning my career as a coach. I really enjoyed those days and learnt an awful lot from the whole school in general, and as well as producing some goalkeepers we produced a coach too! In fact I have been thinking about opening my own Academy of goalkeeping?

10: What do you think is the best height for a goalkeeper?

Height is always a big question in all young goalkeeper’s minds? I feel that six foot two is a nice height, but then it depends on age and genes I’m afraid we cant change what we have been dealt with by our maker unfortunately. My answer to you would be that whatever age you never stop growing until your 21 and even then we have a goalkeeper who as just grown another inch since is 21st birthday. Let nature take its course work hard at all aspects of your game both strengths and weaknesses, so that people wont be able to question your height if your good at everything.

11: Which keeper in the premiership do you believe has the best hands? And who do you think is the top keeper outside the premiership?

I think all goalkeeper’s at this level have to have a certain excellence in their handling skills otherwise they would not be playing at the top level for long? Last season I was impressed with Alex Smithies at Huddersfield and Andy Longergan at Preston North End. But Joe Lewis and Ben Hammer both did well at Peterborough and Brentford too.

12: In these days of wall-to-wall coverage, everything a top-level keeper does is scrutinised particular any slip-ups or bad goals. I imagine there is also a fair amount of pressure on these keepers with huge amounts of money at stake- so what do you like to do or say to your goalkeepers during your weekly work and pre-match to ensure they are mentally prepared?

All keepers are individuals and have various ways leading up to games; throughout the week we will discuss various situations as a group or individually on aspects of the game or their game. Games at this level are all recorded and at my disposal a day later for me to analyse with the goalkeeper in private. I have four Goalkeepers at my club with whom I work with on a daily basis, so building relationships is very important to get to know how they think and how learn as well as giving them time to be listened too that is really important in my role. David as developed is own way of dealing with the psychological factors before the game and I know when he needs to do that, as there is a cue for it to take place. I have used the same warm-up routine since I first started coaching and have tweaked it here and there for the individual at times but not by a great amount after all you don’t want to be training before a game?
I also have trigger words to bring the goalkeeper back on track throughout the working week and they respond to this if they are not at their game or as I call it in the zone!

13: What were the first pair of gloves you ever brought or had brought for you?

They were a all yellow glove with like table tennis pimples on it back and front, after that when Uhlsport came on the scene I had brought for me a pair of yellow and black ones this time with a foam pimple going into the glove rather than sticking out.

14: What differences do you see in the way various countries produce and train their goalkeepers? Do you think any nation is ahead of the game, or innovate more than another?

No, I think we all have our own ways of producing as coaches but don’t feel that anyone’s is leading the market, I always feel that you can learn something new and as coaches we should all be adaptable to change as it can only be good for developing goalkeepers. I personally like to watch the Germans work though.

15: What advice would you give to someone of average height on crosses and corners?

Average height? Age is important here too! Adopt an aggressive starting position and be on your toes not flatfooted. Make sure you assess the flight of every ball quickly before making your decision to attack the ball or stay and deal with the second ball remember not every ball is yours. When attacking go late but quick this gives you time to choose the correct pathway where you can attack the ball at its highest point and yours too! Call early and loud put the fear of God into your defenders and the attackers, make sure you know whether your catching, punching or deflecting if it’s a far post cross don’t change your mind in mid-flight.

Martin Thomas (2010)

1. Growing up in Wales I assume that you would have played rugby as well as football, especially with your brother David being a top class player with Cardiff Rugby Club, when did you concentrate on football and was it always as a goalkeeper?

You’re right I did play rugby from an early age, mainly inspired by my Father who also along with my elder brother Dave played rugby for Cardiff. Both my Primary and Secondary Schools did not run football teams so until I was 10 years old, I only played street football, and in the school yard with my mates with no specific position, playing anywhere and everywhere. I had no real ambition to play football for a living, and at that age preferred to play Rugby, but I remember watching the 1969 FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester City, and watching a 19 year old Peter Shilton in goal for Leicester, and from that day I wanted to play in goal. The following season I joined an U12 Boys Club Team a year young, and started training with them and it really went from there. I continued to play for the Boys Club and at 15 an advert was placed in the South Wales Echo by Bristol Rovers, inviting anyone to attend a trial day in Barry during the Summer. I along with 200+ boys attended and played in a practice match, and a week later they invited to join their South Wales Nursery. I continued to play both rugby and football until the day I left school, and eventually signed as an apprentice professional for Rovers in July 1976.

2. You made your Football League debut for Bristol Rovers as a seventeen year old, were you getting any specialist goalkeeping coaching at this time or was it just advice from the senior goalkeepers at the club?

I made my debut for Bristol Rovers v Charlton as a 17 year old, when the Manager Don Megson (Gary’s dad) wanted to rest the first team GK Jim Eadie the week before an important FA Cup Tie v Nottingham Forest. At that time, Jim was the only senior goalkeeper at the club, the only other GK was Glyn Jones who was also an apprentice, but a year older than me. That was the only game I played that season, but in the close season the club went on tour to the US, and Jim injured his back in a game which eventually caused him to retire. The following season Don Megson decided to go with Glyn and myself as his 2 Senior Goalkeepers, me at 17 and Glyn at 18!!......I don’t think it would happen now. This obviously had it’s advantages as it meant that one of us was going to play first team football, but the disadvantage was we had no one to really turn to for any advice and help. Mid season we were told that we were going to have a GK Coach to work with us The late Dick Sheppard the ex WBA and Rovers came into the club on a Monday afternoon if he could get away from his Sports Shop, when he would do a couple of hours with me and Glyn. For the next 4 years this stayed the same, eventually Glyn left the club and Phil Kite replaced him, but once again we did not receive any specialist GK coaching.

3. You started playing before the latex gloves were generally available, presumably using bare hands or Peter Bonetti cotton gloves in the wet, how did you get to know about them and what difference did they make when you started using them?

I did start playing before the latex gloves were introduced, and like many of the goalkeepers at the time I tried some of the cord gloves with the pimpled palms but favoured the green cotton gloves endorsed by Peter Bonetti and Gordon Banks. It was the Pre Season of 1978-79 when we had a trialist in from Swindon Town called Kevin Roberts who was friendly with Jimmy Allen the Swindon GK. Jimmy had been to America over the summer to play, and met a German GK who had some gloves that were totally different to anything he had seen before. Kevin got the details for me and they were made by a company called Reusch and were based in Metzingen in Germany!!! I got some headed paper from the club and wrote to Reusch and asked them to send me any information they had. Catalogues followed and brochures with the Schumacher and Nigbur range (These catalogues are black + white have been shown on the TGB). I ordered the gloves direct from Germany, paid with a bankers draft and received the gloves within a couple of weeks. I continued to do this until Sukan Sports brought out the Sukan / Reusch range, and their Managing director Dave Holmes kindly offered to supply me with the company gloves. I continued to wear Reusch for the rest of my playing career until leaving the game in 1994. Why Reusch for so long you might ask, I have a narrow palm and long fingers and found them to be the most comfortable fit. The company were very supportive over the years and the agreement suited both parties for what was approximately 15 years. I still have a good collection of “Reusch” gloves from that era, along with a varied range from the “Green Cotton era”. I also have a lot of the KKS Sepp Maier range, prior to him joining up with Reusch.

4. Although you only won 1 Welsh full international cap, you were in many of the squads, was there at this time any specialist goalkeeping coaching at the international get togethers?

Yes I did eventually get 1 Senior cap, but after a long wait…… I was on the bench for 2 years as back up to Dai Davies, and then all of a sudden there was an influx of Welsh goalkeepers playing at the top of end of the game. Neville Southall came on the scene, along with Eddie Neidzweicki ( Wrexham and Chelsea ), Tony Norman ( Hull City and Sunderland ), Andy Dibble ( Cardiff + Manchester City), Mark Kendall ( Spurs ), and Dave Felgate at Bolton. Opportunities were few and far between for all of us because of the quality and consistency of Nev, who at one stage was considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the World. Sukan / Reusch became a part of this group because Dai, Eddie, Dave and myself all wore the “S” gloves.

Opportunities to meet up with the squads was a fantastic experience, but like the club scene we had no GK coaches and basically used to work one another until the Manager was ready to include us in his practice.

5. You went on loan to Tottenham Hotspur, was this with the possibility of it becoming a permanent transfer? Was this your first contact with Ray Clemence, who you now work with at the F.A.?

I did go on loan from Rovers, I had been out of football for nearly a year with a hand injury and Phil Kite had established himself as the First Team GK at Rovers. Once I got myself fit I had the opportunity to join my home town club Cardiff on a 3 month loan to get in some first team matches. I was there only 4 weeks when Rovers were not prepared to sell me to their main rivals Cardiff, and I returned to Rovers for 2 days before signing for Tottenham. My former colleague at the FA Tony Parks who was number the 2 GK to Ray was injured, and Spurs wanted to sign me as cover for Ray. A fee was set for a permanent transfer but was never finalised, and Newcastle came in and offered me the opportunity to join them full time. They had just signed Kevin Keegan and the whole of Tyneside was buzzing, I had 6 great years there before joining Birmingham City where I had a further 5 years. Part of the deal of me going to join Newcastle was that they were to play a game against Rovers’ at the old ground Eastville. This was a great opportunity for me to say my thanks to the club that helped me so much in the early part of my career.

6. Fairly early in your career you suffered a serious finger injury, how did this affect you from then on and did you have to use strapping on the finger or amend the gloves in anyway?

Going back to my hand injury I had suffered a chronic dislocation of the ring finger on my right hand and after 2 attempts to rehabilitate the injury it was decided to fuse the joint permanently thus the long period out of the game. The only problem I now faced was strapping and protecting the injured joint, there was not an opportunity to get a glove made like today with a dual finger, so I improvised by firstly placing some 1” oxide tape over the latex on both fingers and a further piece to strap my ring finger to my little finger…not ideal but functional. This way the latex would not get damaged and rip.

7. Your current work with the F.A. keeps you heavily involved with goalkeepers and goalkeeping, what are your thoughts on the current gloves and clothing used?

With being involved at the FA we are contracted to wear Umbro gloves, which are also worn by Joe Hart and David James. As I work with the U21’s down to the U16’s, we obviously have many GK’s in the International system and all a contracted with different companies. It does give me the opportunity to have a look at the gloves and look at the new initiatives, but if I played now I think I would still wear a simple flat palm with thin latex and a simple wristband. Some of the gloves that the young GK’s wear I find too bulky but it is everyone to their own. Regarding the shirts and bottoms etc. I don’t really see any other manufacturers other than Umbro because of the FA deal.

8. There is a photograph on TGB of you running out to play for Newcastle v Manchester United and carrying a Sukan yellow glove bag. Thank you for doing that, it was probably just blatant advertising on my part, but what did you normally keep in the glove bag?

Yes it is the only colour photo I had of the infamous yellow Sukan bag, ……what did I keep in there?…… not a lot really, a spare pair of gloves, some tie ups in the event of one snapping, some finger tape in the event of me needing any during the game and a cap which I rarely wore because I found them uncomfortable, but had one anyway.


Dave Beasant played for a number of clubs in a career spanning over 25 years including Wimbledon, Newcastle United, Chelsea, Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Portsmouth. He won two caps with England in 1989, and famously won the FA Cup with Wimbledon in 1988, being the first goalkeeper to save a penalty and captain his side in an FA Cup Final.

1. In the early 1980's you were one of the few wearing an all green uhlsport jersey, made famous by Jimmy Rimmer. How did this come about, did you contact the U.K. distributors Readers or did they contact you?

I can remember buying the uhlsport jersey myself, as the one the club had from its kit suppliers wasn't a good fit, as the arm length was too short!! I then decided i'd try contacting another supplier, Sondico, as i wanted to be a bit different with the colour shirt i'd wear, and they supplied me with a light blue one with a burgundy stripe through it!! I also used to be given some money from the club to contribute towards my buying gloves from a local sportshop where they would do a deal with the club for buying gloves and boots!!

2. Early photos in your career show you wore no gloves. Can you recall who introduced you to latex palmed gloves and what were your first pair and where were they obtained from?

I can recall playing bare hands and chewing gum so when spitting on hands in dry weather, it would give a tacky feel! Next came the cotton 'Peter Bonetti' green gloves for wet weather, which were a real pain, as when wet, they used to start unrolling off your hands, so you had to tape the wrist band. I really can't remember my 1st pair of latex palm, but i do remember my favourite was the uhlsport with white palm, and ribbed black back, with the white uhlsport logo!!

3. Did any of the clubs you played for ask for your opinion in advance as to what style, colour of jersey you would like, or were you just given a jersey of the club, or manufacturers, choice? It has been mentioned on TGB that it was thought that while at Chelsea you particularly requested that the Umbro jersey was predominantly yellow. Any truth to that?

Yes, when Wimbledon started being sponsored by SPALL, i had a big input into what i wanted to wear, hence the yellow jersey. I remember Gordan Banks wearing yellow in the World Cup, and thought that would do me. Again the same at Chelsea, they asked if i had a particular colour i'd like to wear, and if you looked at my Newcastle days, Yellow was the second colour there too!!

4. Because of the F.A.Cup Final a lot of people associate you with Cannonball gloves, but although they got a great deal of publicity through you they seemed to disappear almost as quickly as they arrived on the scene. How did it come about that you started wearing an unknown Swedish brand, did they approach you through their U.K. consultant Gordon Banks, was there a range of gloves for you to choose from, were the gloves you used made to your personal requirements?

I got to know Cannonball, a man called Uno Anderssan, when he asked to come to Wimbledon to show me 'The Cannonball', which was a machine that would serve balls for a goalkeeper, much the same as the machine that does it for Tennis and now cricket! Problem was, this machine had to be towed on the back of a car!! These were the days before goalkeeping coaches were in at many clubs, but the cost of this machine, you could have hired a coach to become a GK coach!! Gordon Banks came to do a session with me using the machine, and when we got our heads together, we thought a good way of getting the brand known, would be to make a glove, call them cannonball, and i would wear them!! The thing was, Uno wanted an incentive based contract, and at that time, the FA Cup was huge in Scandinavia, a lot was based on results in the competition, and for even more money, clean sheets and penalty saves, going up the further we progressed, and we all know what happened in the Final!! I hit the jackpot, but Uno couldnt afford to pay me, so he just gave me all the gloves he had made!!

5. When at Chelsea you started wearing Reusch gloves, and they introduced a model with your name on it. Did you specify what style and colour of gloves you wanted in the gloves under your name, or did the suppliers do it without consulting you? Did they want you to always wear the style with your name, or were you free to choose any Reusch glove? How many pairs would you get through a season on average, and did they send you a large consignment of them at the start of the season, or did you get a few pairs at a time and then ask for more when they were needed?

Reusch wanted to do a glove with me, and my name, and just used to send me what was classed as their top glove, put my name on that pair, and send a few pairs when i asked. I don't think I had more than a dozen pairs a season, i used to wear my old match gloves for training, and a pair of gloves used to last me maybe 6 games!! I never wore brand new in games, I would always wear them in training first!

6. Reusch used you as a model in some of their catalogues, did they ask you to get involved in any other publicity such as visiting sports shops and personal appearances?

No I didn't do anything other than wear the logo tracksuits whilst having some photos taken.

7. An unfair question but with all the different gloves that you used during your career, was there a particular favourite? In your autobiography you mention that after the Cup Final you swopped jerseys with Bruce Grobbelaar. Have you kept the Cannonball gloves and glove bag from the Final, and did you in general keep jerseys, boots and gloves from your career?

Nowadays, everyone swaps shirts, but back then it seemed only to be in cup finals, and yes I did swap with Bruce, the only player in the Liverpool team that day to do so! I have my shirt and gloves from the game, (I gave Bruce the non sweaty 2nd shirt that Spall had made for me) I used to love the Uhlsport gloves as mentioned earlier, and towards the end of my career, I liked the Selsport Aqua-block.

8. Being one of the first keepers who would roll the ball outside his box and then launch long deep into the opponents half. How did this come about? Was this something you were encouraged to do by Dave Bassett or was the idea purely off the cuff that soon became a Wimbledon trademark.

One day in training, Dave Bassett asked me to start dribbling the ball out, and picking Fash or Stewart Evans before on the corner of the opponents 18 yard box. I thought he was winding me up at first, expecting Jeremy Beadle to come out of the bushes or similar!

9. Being a keeper who played previously for Southampton before moving to Portsmouth in 2001, were you aware of the intense rivalry at this time, and how do the move come about and did you enjoy your time at Fratton Park?

I arrived at Fratton Park, at a very sad time for the club, and myself. My friend, and Portsmouth keeper Aaron Flahaven had died in a road accident, and the manager Graham Rix, called me the night of the accident, a week before the season kicked off, to see if i could help him and Portsmouth out! I think that because of the circumstance, the fans took to me, as best they could, being an ex saint! They used to sing ' We've got a scummer in our goal' so i got by!!

10. You played in an era when goalkeeper coaches were virtually non existent. How did you train during this time with the other keepers? And who was the first coach that you encountered and do you recall any advice they gave you that still sticks in the mind today?

Mike Kelly played a massive part in my career. I used to watch him play in goal for QPR every other week, then he was a good friend of Dario Gradi, and when Dave Bassett took me on trial to Wimbledon, Dario asked Mike to 'have a look at me,' and give his opinion, fortunately for me he thought I was alright! Then when Mike was GK coach at Palace, i used to go over from Wimbledon 1 day a week to train with Mike, and the Palace keeper Paul Barron, who even used to pick me up in his Ford Capri 2.8 injection, top car then!! Mike was also England GK coach with Bobby Robson, so again I worked with him in Italia 90, then again when at Nottingham Forest. We still keep in touch, and i was at his 70th birthday, along with other keepers he had worked with, David Seaman, Mark Schwarzer, Tim Flowers and Paul Barron.

Many thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer our questions.


With so much discussion on TGB on brands re-releasing retro gloves and with Sondico having a lot of great goalkeepinvg heritage to use, do you have any plans to do a Sondico Vintage glove?

Sondico in my opinion sits with Reusch and Uhlsport as one of the three vintage and traditional goalkeeping glove specialists. These 3 brands have true heritage and our new range will feature a collection of retro design gloves but incorporating the latest technologies. As you are aware Sondico has been worn by legends including Shilton, Clemence, Corrigan, Southall, Woods, Goram and many more so we have a huge library of retro styles to select from. There are also some anniversary models under consideration. [For example it is 21 years since Erik Thorstvedt wearing Sondico won the FA Cup with Spurs ! ]

With the growing trend of goal keeper glove company's producing hybrid gloves. Do you think its essential to have a hybrid glove in your new collection?

Yes , materials play a very big part in glove developments and the combination of comfort and grip are vital. We are currently researching several interesting technologies,materials and manufacturing processes that will provide goalkeepers with that competitive edge.

When Allan Mcgregor was with Sells he always had better colourways than the retail models, with Sondico will he have similar colourways and will we be able to get a glove similar to his SMU?

All our endorsees will wear models that are available to buy at retail. With Allan McGregor it is always performance first when he selects his gloves.The quality and consistency of the latex is vital. This is closely followed by colour co-ordination with his kit ! There are plans to introduce home, away and third colours during different parts of the season. Allan is currently testing our newest latex development and will wear this new glove on the USA tour with Scotland later this month.

Will the gloves be easy to get in shops? Also will you have different palms to meet different needs, like a super tacky apg type palm?

Sondico gloves will be available in specialist glove retailers throughout Europe. We will offer a wide range of performance latexes , researching through our archives and adding improvements to our newest products that will cover all weather and terrain conditions.

Why Sondico? and why now? Also when Sells entered the market they have a quite stunning range of cuts (Roll Index, Neg, Surround, Flat and Roll) and latex's (Duo, supersoft, Adh+) is that the plan here? or is it a case of start small and try to regrow the brand?

The glove market is flooded with brands right now .Over many years during my time with Reusch,Umbro and Sells I was frequently asked 'whatever happened to Sondico ? I have always known that this was one brand that could come back and be a major player in this market given its heritage and reputation for innovation. Sondico is not a new brand but it feels like it. I started my goalkeeping product development career at Sondico in 1990 so the brand holds a special memory for me.

The brand is well known by a certain age group and was really only a UK brand. That is where the challenge lies for me : reconnect those goalkeepers and coaches with a brand they loved when they were younger and also open the door to the kids market and to the European consumer. I want to re-energise this brand and bring it back to the top by providing professional quality gloves for serious goalkeepers of all ages.

The plan is to build this brand slowly by introducing a manageable range of goalkeeping equipment with new cuts, latexes and technologies. By using the best materials and factories we are aiming to regain our lost market share. It will not be easy as today there are more brands than ever but the Sondico name holds a strong position in goalkeeping given the reaction already on TGB and Twitter to the relaunch. At it's peak Sondico held a 52% glove market share in the UK ! We know this level may never be achievable again but we have set our sights high over the coming years - the time is right for a Sondico comeback ! I love a challenge and this opportunity was too good to turn down.

Are the palms classifications going to be shortened by three letter acronymes again?? (SMG etc?)

Yes, There will be an improved version of the popular SRG latex introduced as well as advancements in our Supasoft and Durasoft latexes. We have tested these new latexes with pros,academy keepers and juniors and feedback has gone into changing the latex consistencies to get performance levels to the maximum.

Since David James is big into gloves and has no glove contract, did he have any input into the gloves at all?

David James was a major endorsee for Sondico and had a big input into their ranges in the 90's. We have not been in contact with David but have had input from several professionals and retired ‘ex Sondico pros !. It is important to get input from all levels regarding performance, design and durability before product launch. Our endorsees spend time with us at our latex manufacturing plant and stitching centres and examine their gloves during production. This ensures that our gloves are to their exact specifications.

Are these going to be stocked at Sports Direct? And are these going to have the exclusive latex which used to be on the older gloves?

Our gloves will be available to all high street and online retailers throughout Europe. All Sondico gloves will have exclusive latexes from factories I have worked with and trust for over 20 years. Without using the best materials and skilled glove makers we cannot bring Sondico back to the specialist market.

Sondico use to brand their gloves "mit deutscher technik" or "made in germany"...Will you once again be producing the gloves in Germany?

Sondico gloves will be produced in Europe using the best German latex manufacturer so yes the ' Mit Deutscher Technik' still applies !

Is it just going to be gloves at this stage or are there plans for Jerseys, Glovebags etc in the future?

The 2012 initial range will feature gloves only at three levels: professional , academy and junior - as I said earlier we will introduce a manageable range,easy to understand and providing different cuts and latexes. These will be followed by a retro glove range, accessories and specialist training wear.

Have you any new technologies like the ones you brought to previous companies you worked with ?

Without innovation any market becomes boring. There is always room for new concepts and ideas. For 2012 there are several new Sondico innovations in our gloves and advancements in latex technologies in all our three categories professional, academy and junior. In 2013 there will be some radical introductions to our ranges as we will have more development time. We are working with our materials suppliers in Japan and the USA to introduce some real 'firsts' for our products and we are looking forward to bringing something new and exciting to the market.

Will Sondico be keeping the gloves as colourful as before? A lot of modern manufacturers seem obsessed with boring all white designs for their gloves?

It is important that there is a balance between performance and colour. I am a believer that the glove palm is sacred and should always be white as latex in its natural and purest form provides the best adhesion qualities. There are many brands that disagree and launch blacks, blues and other coloured palms. It is up to the goalkeeper to decide.

Our 2012 range will see three design groups with a mix of white and multicolour designs that will give our products a distinctive look on the pitch. The designs are very different from our competitors and once again it is the goalkeepers personal opinion that matters. One thing is sure ,the market will know Sondico is back.

Many thanks for Dave for taking the time out to answer these questions.


The Glove Bag is pleased to have the opportunity to interview Adam Sells. Adam is the Managing Director of Sells Goalkeeper Products Ltd. Members of provided the majority of the questions in this interview.

As an obvious observer of the goalkeeping communities such as The Glove Bag, do you go out of your way to get the insight on what people are discussing and saying about your products

Adam: Absolutely. Knowledge is power! I don’t think you can ever get enough informed opinion.

Customer feedback is essential if we are to establish ourselves as “the” brand for Goalkeepers. We all have ideas, I believe that you must listen to those around you that work on design, production and sales. Then obviously Goalkeepers that are testing product have a major role and of course you guys who are spending your money. These are all pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that I must put together.

Sells has always been a strong supporter of the internet based goalkeeper community. How does your relationship with sites like TGB help your company and the GK website?

Adam: I love sites like TGB. You guys are clearly the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic out there so to ignore comments made here would be madness!

A huge advantage of a specialist brand is to be able to adapt and listen to its customers and react accordingly.

My drive and ambition comes from wanting to be the best and do the best for the Goalkeeper so you have to listen.

What was your very first pair of goalkeeper gloves?

Adam: Thirty odd years ago my father purchased a pair of the green cotton gloves worn by the likes of Peter “The Cat” Bonetti and Joe Corrigan. They didn’t grip a thing, my hands were freezing cold, but I thought they were great!

How many 'prototypes' of a Sells glove are needed on average before the actual glove is found OK to be released?

Adam: I would say that that probably between three and five generally speaking. The first effort tends to be a bit raw. We work on the fit and detail for there in with the last parts, things like slight modifications to logo colours or making a a label from a different material.

From start to finish how long does it take you to design a glove?

Adam: The range for release mid 2007 is now being shown to retailers and this development starting around January of this year. So I guess the answer would be approximately six to eight months.

The process starts with drawings, selection of materials, production of parts, stitching, then testing before final tweaking.

Believe me, what we finish up with in the market place bears little resemblance to the original!

To what extent is Sells' future line up influenced by other brand's new technologies?

Adam: Not too much really. This may sound strange, but though I am aware and respectful of our competitors, they do not shape our thoughts too much. There is no doubt that ideas come from ideas. That said, I am a firm believer in what we do and therefore if you are focused and doing things for the right reasons you will always do ok. I probably paid more attention to other brands before I was involved in the business when I was an enthusiast like you guys!

Sells have kind of made a statement in that they, for the most part, mass-produce and sell the same glove models that the professionals wear. What was it that led to this strategy?

Adam: Only the best is good enough. You have to have a passion to be the best! As a specialist brand I want to give you the end user, whatever level you play, the same opportunity as a top international Goalkeeper. Some of our Keepers have slight variations very occasionally, but as they test and give us feedback first we know that when a product is released Goalkeepers will wear it. I think that as these guys are revered by the goalkeeping community, so it’s only natural that they want to enjoy the same benefits not a replica copy with inferior materials.

Have sells any plans for goalkeeper specific boots?

Adam: It is certainly something we have considered and this may well be something you see in the future. This will come when I think we have something unique to offer that has not been done already. In order to convince keepers to wear our gloves for instance, we must make them grip better than others, more comfortable than others, absorb shock better than others or Keepers would simply not buy SELLS. It would be the same with a boot; i.e. control zones, adding distance to kicking, improving lateral movement, assisting stance and perhaps spring. It would have to be something special that every Keeper would want.

How involved in Sells is Dean Kiely?

Adam: Dean is a shareholder and close friend as well as being a great source of help and feedback. Due to its continued growth, the company recently raised further capital via a share issue. Dean has been joined as a shareholder by the likes of; Jerzy Dudek, Kelvin Davis, Robert Green, Andy Marshall. One or two more are likely to follow suit shortly.

All these guys are genuinely interested in the development of the SELLS brand and do as much as they can to help. I am truly proud that these guys like the products so much they wanted to invest in our future.

Most of the goalkeeper gloves from Sells have the roll finger cut, while there are just is a small number of gloves with glove cuts (e.g. negative-cut or flat palms). Is this because of your personal experiences or because of the general inquiries from your customers and testers?

Adam: I have to say that up until now in the UK, “Roll fingers” have generally been the chosen cut. I want our glove range to have something for everyone and every market has its own key models. I think what has been surprising is the amount of times I have heard that “Roll fingers won’t sell in this country…” only for the Adhesion Ultra Wrap to be their best seller a year later!

I think going forward the “Contour” models are going to get to develop a similar following for those that prefer other cuts. The range for 2007 is particularly strong.

Are there plans to sign goalkeepers in international leagues like the Bundesliga, Serie A, etc?

Adam: Yes, very much so. We have a La Liga Goalkeeper for the first time now and I am talking to others at present in Serie A and Le Championaat. We do have a decent presence in around 25 countries now but I am conscious that as we move the brand forward, the top leagues of France, Italy, Germany and Spain will need my particular focus. I am negotiating with a couple at present and will let TGB know if and when these are concluded.

What makes Sells different from other brands that manufacture goalkeeper products?

Adam: Being a specialist! Constant attention and development. If you cannot change for the better, don’t change for the sake of it.

On the glove side we are continually researching, looking to find new materials, cuts and design. I want our range to be so extensive that no Goalkeeper can look at it and say there is nothing there for him or her.

Our strategy is simple. Grip first, then comfort, with aesthetics, the final angle explored. We look at what has brought us success in the market previously and try to improve the cut or feel. Small detail is what separates you from the rest.

I think also our willingness to produce textile items like the Tempest and Silhouette range, that are not “mainstream” really gains us an affinity with the serious Goalkeeper. Sports brands will look at the numbers and say “no thanks,” but these articles underpin our image.

Last weekend in the UK, our gloves were worn in the Premiership, Championship and SPL by 44% of the Goalkeepers. We do not have limitless amounts of cash to throw around, so it suggests that the professionals are buying into this philosophy.

From a sales perspective, this makes it very difficult for retailers here to ignore us.

If could sign any one Goalkeeper (money no option) to be the main endorsee of Sells gloves whom would it be and why?

Adam: That’s a great question! I think after five years, the next stage for us as a brand is to gain the endorsement of one of the games iconic goalkeeping images. It is something that I am working very hard on at present. As I am sure that you can appreciate, these Goalkeepers tend to be dominated by the major sports brands due to the astronomical sums involved. I think every brand would want to be associated with these household names. I am hopeful we may be able to add one of these to our portfolio in the not too distant future. If not, I think the key is to identify, where you think the next one might be and tie them to a long term contract. I think the likes of Buffon, Dida, Casillas, Cech, Van der Sar and Lehmann, who play at big clubs and countries that are top performers in international football are all great ambassadors for their respective brands.

What is your favourite pair of goalkeeper gloves?

Adam: Again another great question! The simple answer is really the next thing we are working on! That always excites me the most! Of the gloves for 2007 I am really pleased with all of them and as always I feel it is our best yet.

The new Wrap series will sell well with a wet, winter and summer version.

The contour d30 technology has moved up a notch from last year and is outstanding with a roll finger version now available.

My particular favourites though are in the Adhesion Ultra Total Contact range. I think this a great cut, great fit and has a striking look too!

But as I said earlier I hope that there is something for everyone.

How often do you evaluate materials other than latex for glove grip? For example, my wife and daughter both ride horses and have what is called a gel pad under the saddle. This stuff is sticky like you wouldn't believe...and appears far more durable than normal latex.

Adam: So far we have found nothing that surpasses latex and generally we ask latex producers to refine the formula to keep improving grip in wet conditions or to increase levels of durability. It is an interesting that you have raised this issue as I am committed to researching anything that represents positive progress. Maybe you have stumbled across the next big thing!


Along with reusch , HO seem to be big advocates (supporters) of the "duo grip" system . I was wondering why HO feels this type of glove is so good . Does this come from research from pro's , or is it the preference of the owners / designers ?

HO SOCCER is a specific brand for goalkeeper and it must have the most complete range. The latex duo grip permits the hand not to slip inside the glove and allows a better control of the ball. If it’s help the control of the ball, we will keep it.

When, I was young, it happened me several times to return my gloves and to feel that it could be a great idea to have a double-sided latex .

Personally, I am the designer and as my favorite latex is the duo grip, you have the answer of your question.

About the tast of the pros, it’s very different. Some don't support it, others like it, each have their own preference

Why was the gecko cut dropped?

No, The Gecko didn't disappear. It remained in the collection of some countries. It’s a cut that had a little pain to start. Today it is very popular in the goalkeeper community. It took time to receive information, the collection 2007 went on sale and we didn’t kept it in our international catalog.

We are modifying some details and this cut will come back in the international collection in 2008.

What is HO's policy when it comes to choosing who they wish to endorse? And do goalkeepers ever approach you and hope to be endorsed? And how does it work? Do they get a set number of gloves per month? or is it another way?

We receive demands of sponsorship regularly. We forward them automatically to the distributors of every country. The one takes its decision here according to his needs, the quality of the keeper, his level, or his strategy for the future.

Some keepers look for the best contract and don't look at the quality of the products. On the other hand, some will work with you if the product is perfect.

A goalkeeper uses in general between 15 and 20 pairs per year. The most famous between 40 and 60 pairs. A big number is offered to the fans after match.

As you can imagine it, they are very treasured by the supporters.

What is the history of HO? How did it come about? What were the first pair of HO gloves?

I can write a book, but I will try to explain it shortly.

History started in 1997 when I left my native country (France) to leave in Portugal. I opened a sport shop specialized for goalkeeper.

I met the agents of Reusch, Adidas (the brands most known at this time) and it went well. On the other hand I had a big problem with Uhlsport that refused to sell me their product. The reason was that my project was not pleasing to the local distributor.

It was necessary that I find other solutions in order to have the most possible choice. One of this brand was BGB (boutique du gardien de but) a French brand that began to have success in France and in some European countries.

During the meeting, BGB asked me to become his exclusive distributor for Portugal.

After reflection, I accepted because the products were good and it seemed me that I could make something.

I met Michel Preud'Homme and 2 others people to set up a company of distribution for BGB.

After 2 years we became the numbers 1 in sales. The stores in Portugal wanted the BGB only.

At the end of 1999, BGB became bankrupt.

Considering the commercial network, all the stores that trusted us and of the goal keepers that we sponsored, we decided to continue the adventure with a brand that we have named MPH (Michel Preud'Homme).

At the end of 2000, I was victim of an swindle by one the shareholders and I left the brand.

In August 2001, I created the brand HO SOCCER with the collaborator who worked with me in my store for goalkeeper (José Mendes). I take care of the designing and of the commercial area and left it to him production and administration.

We created the MGC cut with 8 other models. We immediately had success.

Since, the brand grows, we will count 20 distributors end of 2007 and we are selling approx 60 different models in our collections 2007.

The morals of this history it is that without the deep intelligence of the Portuguese distributor of Uhlsport, I would not be here . A big thanks to him !

What are the challenges of being in a market that must compete not only with other specialist brands such as your own, but with giants such as adidas, Nike, and Puma?

I don't think that it is necessary to see the things like that.

For Adidas, Nike or Reebok, the goal keeper represents a very small part of their sales. It is not the case of HO SOCCER, SGP, UHLSPORT or REUSCH.

While taking an example, we are in the same case of a specialist store for running shoes that must fight against the Decathlon or the JJB (big european sport stores) in the same city

The first choice of a runner that practices a good level at his sport will be going to buy at a specialist who will propose the specialist brands as New balance, Brooks, Asics or Saucony.

I consider that I am a specialist store. I concentrate on what I make best and where I’m the most efficient.

I think that it is necessary to make the difference between the mass market and the specialist market.

The customer today is mature enough to realize this subtlety. He knows what he will find when he buys from a specialist brand.

A lot of forum now exists (,, etc…), sites specialized in the GK and allowing them to exchange their point of view. They have a good knowledge now about the products. This was not the case 10 years ago.

Who was the 1st professional goalkeeper to wear your gloves, and what gloves did they wear?

When we started HO SOCCER, we immediately recovered most keepers playing with MPH/BGB. Therefore it was a group of player's and not a particular GK that played with the gloves.

Pedro Espinha (GUIMARAES and National team Portugal of), Hilario (FC PORTO), Sergei OVCHINIKOV (FC PORTO and National Team of RUSSIA) Andrej WOZNIAK (BRAGA and National Team of POLAND), William ANDEM (BOAVISTA and National Team of CAMEROON), JOAO RICARDO (PACOS FERREIRA and National team of ANGOLA) were some of the first.

What famous Goalkeepers contribute to designing your gloves and palms?

We don't have goal keepers who participate in the beginning to the end in the conception of a glove. We rather have specific demands .

For example, It is necessary to know that one of the main problem of the professionals is the changes of balls. Every two years, there is a new ball that leaves with "new concepts" that embarrass immensely the keepers.

All keepers that I know complain of the trajectories or the texture of these new balls.

In this case, for example, we use the help of a laboratory, with techniques that can measure the qualities of such latex and the texture of the new soccerballs. And once we have knowledge of information, we integrate it in our collections. “Our” keepers are very satisfied

"Our" goal keepers in general, trust us in a first time, and let us know on details that appear to them important and at the time of testing of the prototypes to the final product.

Why does HO choose to make such a small amount of Negative cuts availiable with the majority of your designs roll or flat cuts?

Our collections are made according to the market where we are.

Some countries only want the Roll finger, others want the flat cuts, and others want the negatives.

Our distributors give us the directions to follow and we help them towards the maximum to deliver what their public wants.

For the negative cuts, we have the negative proteck, the Enigma and the MGC.

We also have created 5 years ago the cut R *égative that gives some sensations similar to the negative cut with a few more of space for the fingers.

What makes HO different or unique to other companies?

Is there any plan on "globalizing" the HO company to make it more well known, and have gloves distributed around the world for more customers? the different and innovative cuts that you have produced should be used around the world so goalkeepers around the world have the opportunity to try something different.

Except the quality and innovations, I think that one of the important points is flexibility and the adaptability of our collections in the countries where we sell them.

The market in southern Europe is not at all the same as the market in northern Europe, same for the North-American market, the south-American or Asian.

The ground are not the same, the weather report either, the balls either, the spending powers either, the needs of the keeper either, mentality either, the game of the keeper either.

There are about 18,000,000 keepers in the world, which makes for approximately 25,000,000 of pairs sold per year. If you want to touch the most keepers in the world, it is necessary to adapt to the needs of every culture. If you add the production of the goalkeeper brands most famous (include Adidas and Nike) you will pass the 5,000,000 of pairs with difficulty. Who sells the remaining??

One of our strengths is this … It is required to work with distributors that perfectly know their market and that inform you. It also requires flexibility and fast suppliers.

I repeat the same, if you speak with a South American keeper, his needs will be different than a European Keeper or an Asian Keeper.

What country do you focus most of your sales on and why?

The countries that everybody searches for. It’s means markets with the best margins and volumes. If we can find the two it is fantastic !

While HO's product has been applauded as being effective and innovative, its sevrice to disributors has been at the opposite end of the spectrum, making it hard for many of us to get gloves through our usual sources. Is HO aware of the problem and how are you addressing it?

It is a good question.

To answer this question, it is necessary to know the different steps of the merchandising.

1 - Sourcing

2 - conception of the collection

3 - the purchase of the raw materials

4 - manufacture

5 - the distributor of the country

5 - the sport shops

6 - the final customer who is the keeper

First of all it is necessary to know that HO SOCCER is only 6 years old of existence, that to put the good relationships in place takes a certain time. There were mistakes of castings with some of our partners. We rectified them.

But one thing is clear, we can have the best product of the world but if we don't have a distributor in your country, it will be difficult for you to acquire it . Fortunatelly the web is here and you will find in shops specialized like Pro Direct soccer, Great Save, Between The Sticks, Just keepers, Keepersport, goalkeepersclub , Soloporteros etc…

Since 2 years, we rebuild a network with more professional distributors that shares our philosophy. We also work to get production faster and more reliable.

We took the decision to adapt the collections to different country. Its advantages but also inconveniences.

Where does 'Ho' see the future of glove design going and what does it intend to bring to the party that will see it eclipse other brands, because I personally feel we're getting into a cul-de-sac in terms of innovations in palm materials,glove cuts and finger protection ?

I don't know what the other brands think but for my part it is a big mistake to think that the market is in a cul de sac

I have a lot of ideas in my box but I cannot make/sell them all at the same time. I need a perfect network to sell them, I want to have the biggest impact possible. Some of the ideas are too innovative for todays market, we have to wait.

Today, you show a drawing on internet and you can be sure that in a month, yours idea will be copied and will be marketed before your product arrives in the hands of your customers. I exaggerate but I am not far from the reality.

Don’t worry about the ideas. I also think that you will be surprised in the next years

What glove (by any brand) on the market do you wish HO could have designed? Which glove other than HO do you think is a good solid benchmark?

I liked the CUT of the Vapor Grip of Nike. It’s exactly the kind of glove that I would have been able to create. It possesses a lot of point of contact with the ball and it is the essential.

It is difficult to say what is currently the best because we are speaking about cycles, one day it is one, another day it’s another. It’s depend of their network and if they signed big names. All, as HO SOCCER, every brand has his qualities and his faults.

ADIDAS: It is a strong brand with a very good commercial network

NIKE: The models won in quality these last years. There are things different of research and the innovation.

PUMA: Gianluigi Buffon is a fantastic window.

SGP: Adam Sells is an enthusiast men as me, he makes an excellent work. I like these last two collections well. We had a lot of similarities in our professional life.

REUSCH: I liked this brand a lot until the end of the years 90. There are the innovation and the interesting technical details in their models 2007.

UHLSPORT: Fantastic marketing.

What was your biggest motivation getting the HO brand into the UK, and how do you think your range of jerseys,shorts, holds up against the big guns (other brands)?

We work with a very good distributor in UK. The team of Tuff distribution is composed by very hard and motivated workers. I am very happy to work with Tuff Distribution.

In two years they succeeded in putting HO SOCCER in nearly all the good English sport shops.

Be again a little patient and HO SOCCER will have a good network of shops in a very short time in UK . I don’t have any doubt about it.

What piece of eqiupment do you think will become the next "essential" for goalkeepers, and what do you plan on doing to get a jump on research and production on that product?

I cannot answer this question because we are working on them currently but be sure that there are several areas of development

How many prototype gloves do you go through before the final product? Will HO start to develop other soccer related equipment i.e. shoes?

When I visit our suppliers in Asia, I like to sit near the stitcher and work with him to find new cuts.

I’m in the factory and I can rectify in the instant. For the first step of the prototype, in general 1 or 2 prototypes are sufficient. Then, we send it to the professionals for test.

In general, it is good for 70% of the gloves. The only modifications are in the combinations of colour.

From the beginning to the last version, I would say 2 to 4 maximum.

For the shoes we don't have the intention to start a collection. It is a specific business and it is not our business. It would be necessary for it to have a partner with the experience and that would bring something new.

For the moment nothing is planned.

HO continually strives for a massive range of gloves. Do you think this gives HO an edge compared to other companies, because almost everyones tastes are catered for no matter what? Additionally, does this also prove to be a problem at times, because retailers will often only carry a small percentage of the range that HO has available for sale?

Make a test with balls of different brands and different textures . PU, PU/PVC and PVC. Make the test with your best pair of gloves and use the same gloves for each quality of ball.

The result it’s that you will feel a lot of difference in the grip between each ball. If the ball is wet the difference of grip will be bigger. If you test it in different grounds you will feel the different in your grip, if you test it with a dry weather or if you test it with a humid weather you will a difference in you grip and we are speaking about your best pair of gloves independently of the brand.

It’s why we are using 12 kind of latex with different thickness/cushioning. Each keeper will find in HO SOCCER the latex foam for every kind of ball available in the market.

Some of companies sell gloves because they signed big names but you need to know that most of the professionals today play the whole season with the same soccerball.

Their professional league signed an agreement with a brand and each game is played with a new ball never used.

For the keeper pro, there is not a problem, he makes his choices beginning of his season and basically it will work during his season.

Now, the amateurs level is another history. Every week, the ground is different, the ball is different and most of the times the soccer ball is used. Do you think that the best choice is to play with Buffon, Helton or Casillas gloves in every games ???

I think sometimes they need a latex foam with more density or less density to contain the aquaplaning effect, more thickness or less thickness to feel the ball, negative cut or roll finger for a better control, more cushioning or less cushioning to absorb the impact, with finger protection without finger protection, etc…

That’s what HO SOCCER have and want. A lot of choice for every kind of soccerball, levels, technicity, or weather.

We don’t ask the shop to carry all HO SOCCER models but if their customers need, we have.