Goalkeepers are generally expected to be solid at the back with minimum fuss and allow the attackers to win the games for the teams. Very often the best goalkeepers in the world (like Iker Casillas, Manuel Neuer) are often part of star-studded successful squads, where they keep the opposition strikers at bay, while their team’s attack does the needful at the other end of the pitch.However there have been instances when the goalkeeper has stepped up and become the saviour for the side as the player almost single-handedly ensured a favourable result for the side. We look at a few instances in the last two decades where the goalkeepers turned hero and saved the game for their sides.
#1 Ricardo (Portugal)
Game: Portugal vs England – 24 June 2004 at Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
Not many know that Ricardo was responsible for England getting knocked out from 2 major events in just over 2 years (Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006), as he denied the star-studded English squad at the penalty shootouts in the two games, which incidentally both occurred at the quarterfinals stage.
The keeper first grabbed headlines in the Euro 2004 quarterfinal where Portugal, the host nation, beat the England team (which was a favourite of many fans worldwide). The two teams were 1-1 after normal time, and scored a goal each in the extra-time to force a penalty shootout to decide which side would progress.
The penalties score was 5-5 when Darius Vassell stepped up to take his kick. In an attempt to unsettle the striker, Ricardo took off his gloves and the tactics worked as he could save the penalty kick. Ricardo later described the incident as "I felt that I had to do something after conceding three penalties all in the centre of the goal. Taking the gloves off was what occurred to me at that moment and I did it to try and motivate myself and to put Vassell off." He then surprised everyone, including some of his Portuguese teammates, as he proceeded to take the next kick, which he coolly slotted in to ensure that his side progressed to the next round.