Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Goalkeeper

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“We all know it: goalkeepers are different. And good thing, too. They prompt a special affection or loathing from fans, and even their nicknames—a solid indicator of devotion—carry a yearning that other players struggle to match. The Iron Curtain (Rinat Dasaev), the Always-Standing Little Hercules (Aldo Olivieri), the Elastic Wonder (Ángel Bossio) the Ballet Dancer with the Hands of Steel (Vladimir Beara). Even at their most obscure or unimaginative —the Cat of Prague (Frantisek Planicka), the Cat of the Maracanã (Antoni Ramallets), the Black Panther (Lev Yashin), the Black Spider (Lev Yashin), the Black Octopus (Lev Yashin) —these alter egos suggest a mythical quality not easily dismissed. Our fascination with the position—and the oddballs and iconoclasts it attracts—has spawned a small library of books, ranging from how-to manuals, histories, and manifestos to novels and memoirs. A survey of the literature takes us deep into the soul of the game and reveals the onlookers as much as it does the keepers themselves.” Howler Magazine

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