Goalkeeper Ben Amos looks at emergence of young English stoppers.
By Chris Hatherall
Manchester United's Ben Amos has paid tribute to the new generation of exciting young English goalkeepers, after making his Champions League debut on Tuesday.
Amos, who is only 20 years old, looked assured and confident during a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford that sent United through to the last 16 as group leaders.
It was a massive moment for the player who has represented England at U20, U19, U18, U17 and U16 level and has been at United since he was 11-years-old.
After loan spells with Peterborough United and Molde, his emergence as a contender at Old Trafford underlines just how far English goalkeepers have come in recent years – because it doesn’t seem long ago when critics were bemoaning how few there were to choose from in the Premier League.
These days Joe Hart is number one choice at United’s neighbours Manchester City, while Ben Foster, Paul Robinson, Robert Green, Scott Carson and Chris Kirkland all have plenty of top flight experience. And that’s not to mention youngsters such as England Under-21 aces Scott Loach, Jason Steele, Frankie Fielding, Alex Smithies and Alex McCarthy, who have been gaining experience in the lower leagues.
“It’s great to have so many English goalkeepers as role models,” said Amos.
“I don’t know why we suddenly have so many good young English ‘keepers, sometimes they just come in waves. I think probably the standard of coaching has improved and that’s helped a lot.
“But sometimes you do get players coming through all at once. It has happened here at United, hasn’t it? I don't know if there is any reason for it or not. But it’s certainly good for me.
“It is encouraging to see that young, English goalkeepers are getting an opportunity. That lets you know if you are playing well enough, you will be given a chance.”
Amos has waited patiently for his chance at United but knows that with Danish star Anders Lindegaard about to arrive in Manchester his chances of regular first team football are probably slim in the short term. However, he would be happy to consider another loan move in a bid to keep progressing.
He added: “I am hugely grateful for the opportunity I have been given here. When you are training a lot you have to keep yourself ready for that one opportunity when it comes around. It is a big season.
“With a new goalkeeper coming in I don't know what is going to happen. If it means me going out on loan somewhere, that might be great for me.
“It is crucial for a young goalkeeper to get a good run of games in and get that consistency. That is how you get experience. The only way of doing that is going out and playing regularly somewhere.
“The manager told me what he thought of me at the end of last season. That was great motivation. I was grateful for that. It is great when someone of the stature of Sir Alex Ferguson has that belief in you. It gives you great confidence.
“I don’t know if I’ll go on loan but it is something I would like to do, if I am being honest. I think I would benefit a lot from it. Now that we are out of the Carling Cup, there are fewer opportunities for me to play. It is definitely something that would take me to the next level.”
The good news for United, and for England, is that Amos looked more than comfortable against Valencia, making several smart saves in the second half.
“I felt calm out there,” he said. “I felt good. I wasn't nervous beforehand. I was thinking I was a bit too calm before the game! My confidence is growing the more I improve. Whether it is 70,000, 100,000 or 30,000 when you are playing, it doesn't make a big difference. It is all about concentration.
“I was pleased with how it went. Distribution is normally a big strength of my game. That was a little bit hit and miss at times, which was disappointing because I know what I can do. I have shown that before. Other than that I was happy.”