Nine of the worst mistakes made by English goalkeepers

Rob Green
Photo: John Christian Fjellestad (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Who would want to be a goalkeeper? All players make mistakes, but when it’s the man between the sticks, it always ends in disaster.

It happens at all levels, from Premier League to Sunday League, and places a huge amount of pressure on those between the sticks. 

Burnley U18s keeper Harry Allen has now spoken about the demands of being a number one and how he expects homegrown goalkeepers to improve in the near future.

We’ve taken a look at nine of the biggest mistakes made by English shot-stoppers in recent years.

Dean Henderson

Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League
28 September 2019

Up-and-coming keeper Dean Henderson has impressed during his time at Sheffield United and is tipped to become the future number one for Manchester United. However, he recently proved that anyone can make a mistake between the sticks after spilling Georginio Wijnaldum’s mediocre volley to hand Liverpool a 1-0 win.

The error meant his place in the upcoming England squad was in doubt, and he only snuck into the national set-up after Tom Heaton withdrew through injury. At 22, Henderson still has many years ahead of him and will be hoping to prove he can handle the mental toughness that comes with mistakes for the remainder of the season.

Jordan Pickford 

Liverpool 1-0 Everton
Premier League
2 December 2018

The current England number one has also suffered a howler against Liverpool, and in the most dramatic fashion. The Merseyside derby looked to be ending in a goalless draw, but a mistake from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the sixth minute of added time handed their neighbours all three points.

Virgil van Dijk’s mistimed strike looked to be looping over the bar until Pickford tried to gather the ball. He knocked the ball onto the crossbar and into open play, allowing Divock Origi to sneak in and head past the flailing shot-stopper from two yards out. Pickford later apologised to fans and remains the key man in goal for the Toffees.

Declan Rudd

Birmingham City 3-0 Preston North End
EFL Championship
1 December 2018

Preston’s nine-match unbeaten run in late 2018 finally came to an end with a trip to Birmingham, but it wasn’t the scoreline that would have caused sleepless nights for Declan Rudd. The North End keeper conceded three second-half strikes, with the first one of the worst seen in the Championship all season.

Maikel Kieftenbeld’s overhit pass had beaten Che Adams and should have been a simple save for Rudd, but he calamitously mistimed the save and watched the ball rebound off his leg and into the net. He could have arguably done better for the resulting goals from Jacques Maghoma and Adams, but kept his place in the side and Preston bounced back with back-to-back wins.

Joe Hart 

England 1-2 Iceland
UEFA Euro 2016
28 June 2016

When it comes to memorable moments for the England national team, they often revolve around goalkeepers. The Three Lions crept through the group stage of the 2016 European Championships with two draws and a win to earn a round of 16 clash with Iceland. Wayne Rooney put England one up from the spot early on, but the lead lasted just two minutes.

Iceland were then handed the win midway through the first half after a tame effort from Kolbeinn Sigþórsson was parried into the bottom corner by Joe Hart. The goalkeeper had attracted attention for his pre-match antics at the tournament, appearing to be overly animated in the tunnel, and admitted responsibility for multiple errors in the competition at full-time. He became out-of-favour with the national set-up shortly later and hasn’t made an international appearance for almost two years.

Rob Green

England 1-1 USA
2010 FIFA World Cup
12 June 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was one to forget for England fans. They eventually crashed out after *that* shot from Frank Lampard was disallowed in a defeat to Germany, but the drama began from the very first game after Rob Green gifted the United States a point in the opening game.

Clint Dempsey’s long-range shot bounced off the gloves of Green and into the net, with the goalkeeper unable to scurry to recover his mistake. Following his error and a poor performance in training, Green was dropped by Fabio Capello shortly after and replaced by veteran David James. He also missed out on the next England squad following the tournament and never played again under Capello.

Ben Foster

Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City
Premier League
20 September 2009

Ben Foster’s impact at Manchester United was minimal during his five years at the club, but his performance in a 4-3 win against Manchester City was thankfully overshadowed by Michael Owen’s 96th-minute winner. His time at the club was effectively over following his outing, with the goalkeeper admitting Sir Alex Ferguson launched a tirade at him after the match.

A poor attempt at a clearance allowed Carlos Tevez to tackle the second choice keeper and set-up City’s first goal, and Foster should have done better to deny Craig Bellamy’s 90-minute equaliser, which looked to have handed their local rivals a point. Despite Ferguson’s doubts, Foster has bounced back and forged a career in the Premier League with Birmingham, West Brom and Watford.

Scott Carson

England 2-3 Croatia
UEFA Euro 2008 Qualification
21 November 2007

England disastrously failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships, and the blame largely fell on Scott Carson. The current Manchester City shot-stopper fumbled Nico Kranjcar’s long-range strike to hand Croatia a win and seal England’s fate, with manager Steve McLaren also sacked just 24 hours later.

Carson then made his second mistake inside 15 minutes when rushing out and allowing Ivica Olic to slip round the West Brom goalkeeper. He was also easily beaten from distance for the final goal and had to wait a year for his next international cap.

Paul Robinson

England 2-0 Croatia
UEFA Euro 2008 Qualification
11 October 2006

England were also embarrassed by Croatia a year earlier with Paul Robinson between the sticks. The goalkeeper was caught off his line by a looping header from Eduardo, but the second goal during the defeat in Zagreb would be the one to make national headlines.

A simple back pass from Gary Neville should have been easily cleared by Robinson. Both England defenders and Croatia attackers had already turned around to follow the action, but a slight bobble meant the goalkeeper completely missed the ball and it rolled into the net. Robinson was quick to blame the turf and later criticised the media for the “abuse” he received.

David James

Manchester City 2-1 Fulham
Premier League
5 November 2005

David James experienced most things during his Premier League career – including playing as a striker while Manchester City kept their £5 million forward on the bench. But he also made a near-crucial mistake in the final third of the pitch, while he was supposed to be playing as a goalkeeper.

With City trailing away to Fulham, James went up for a free-kick to provide additional support in the box. He collected the rebound from an initial clearance but completely mistimed his kick, and after initially retaining possession, gave the ball away with a sloppy pass. Fulham broke and almost made it three, but James had Sun Jihai to thank after a last-ditch clearance.