Photo credits: Legionisci.com
Ricardo Pereira is the goalkeeper coach of Legia Warsaw and has performed the same role at clubs such as Standard Liège, Independiente del Valle, Nottingham Forrest, Al Fateh, and SL Benfica B.
In this latest edition of Soccer HUB Talks, the current Polish champions’ coach spoke with Nuno Milheiro about the transformations observed in the goalkeeper position in recent years, the most valued attributes in his scouting process, and the hardest training aspects.
How the passion for goalkeeping has started
“I can assure you: once a goalkeeper, a goalkeeper for life. It is something that becomes part of us. I remember the first goals I have protected in my street, where my parents still live. Now I am 47 and played almost until 40 as an amateur. Usually, I say that I am a much better goalkeeper coach than what I was as a goalkeeper. Sometimes, I do not even speak about passion but love. I have studied kindergarten teaching and clinical psychology. It is something that inside me I do not remember I am, but all the knowledge from these areas is inside me and helps me to coach better. I have studied and worked as a psychologist and as a kindergarten teacher because I have a family and did not win enough money with football at that time”.
When realized I was about to leave the goal as a player, I started to feel the desire of pursuing a career as a goalkeeper coach and maybe achieve the level I did not achieve as a player.
“Thank God – probably with luck and hard work – it happened. My career started at Real SC in the U17 [2011-2012 season], and then I coached SL Benfica [2012–2016]. Through the invitation of Ricardo Sá Pinto, I started my career abroad. Since then, I have never returned to Portugal”.
Changes in the last 30 years
“Goalkeeping has changed a lot, especially in what we ask goalkeepers to do. I divide the role into three fields: defend the goal, defend the space – inside or outside the box – and attack the space, which is what you do in possession. These last two were what changed the most. Nowadays, goalkeepers should have a lot of competencies to protect spaces and attack them with the ball, but they still need to be decisive for the team to protect the goal. That did not change. We put more stuff in their responsibilities due to the changes in football, its systems, the speed of the game, and rules. Today, for example, we have an amazing rule that allows us to start the game with defenders inside the box. That gives us – people who love to play from the back – a lot of options to attract the opponents, kill their pressures, and have a cleaner exit from there”.
Most valued attributes in scouting
“Scouting is different between ages, but the preamble I can do about it is: look for your context, how you play as a team and what your head coach or club wants from a goalkeeper. Maybe you want a guy that can perform in a simple way, good in crosses, okay in one-versus-one (…). You should look at his performance and check if he was the abilities you are looking for. Sometimes it can be an experienced 30-year-old guy, and he fits the profile. It is simple”.
You have to be smart enough to understand what the club wants and needs at the right moment.
“We can look at the example of Legia Warsaw. If we were looking for a goalkeeper, we would have to understand the complicated moment we are facing. That would give us the keys and clues to find the proper goalkeeper”.
“For a high level, we know that the current standards are around 1,88 m. I can accept a few centimeters down and a lot up. It is about what you do with your body. If you are 1.75 m it can be difficult for you to succeed at the highest level, but you will probably be a fabulous futsal goalkeeper. Who can say that Iker Casillas was a bad goalkeeper or Keylor Navas is not fighting with Gianluigi Donnarumma for the place? I cannot be a fundamentalist”.
Most difficult aspects to train
“Speed and reaction, mostly in terms of placement and movement. The calculation or the decision in bigger spaces – large and slowly crosses that give you plenty of time to decide and arrive or the ball on the back of defensive lines – is something you can and should train. My feedback all the time is ball and man. A lot of goalkeepers are focused on the ball. At the highest level, sometimes you almost forget the ball in this situation because the ball cannot pose a great danger for you. What will be dangerous is the player attacking the space. All this combined with the courage to put the body in the interest of the team”.
The good relationship between goalkeepers
“It helps a lot. We are very important in the build-up of these relationships”.
Sometimes, we can say we treat them in the same way. Well, I never treat them in the same way. I have two daughters, and they are unique. I have the same values and principles, but I cannot talk to one the same way I talk to the other. The same thing happens with goalkeepers.
“They have different ages, expectations, previous experiences, and bodies, so I need to adapt my feedback and work to these different cases”.
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