England pay penalty for too many foreign keepers, says Gordon Banks

 

As English football opened its centre of excellence yesterday, Gordon Banks warned that the Premier League's foreign influx has destroyed the standards of the country's goalkeeping.

While the man who can claim to be England's greatest keeper believes Joe Hart has the potential to become the best in the world, Banks argued he faces pitifully little competition for his place in Roy Hodgson's side.

There were a mere five English goalkeepers playing in last weekend's Premier League fixtures and, of those, Ben Foster of West Bromwich Albion has announced he no longer wishes to appear for his country while Newcastle United's Steve Harper, who is 37, might not have played against Manchester United had Tim Krul been fit.

That left Hodgson with two alternatives to Hart; Norwich's John Ruddy, who has been called up into the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Poland, and Reading's 22-year-old Alex McCarthy. They conceded six goals between them at the weekend.

"Joe Hart is the best English goalkeeper by a mile, no question," Banks said. "But what concerns me is that there is nobody challenging him for that position. I don't want him to get overconfident to the degree where he doesn't have to worry about his place.

"Alf Ramsey would always make a point of going round all the players in the hotel after we had played a Wednesday night international and say goodbye before the lads from the North got the bus to the station. I once said to him: 'See you then, Alf.' He stopped and replied: 'Will you?' It was just a reminder you couldn't pick yourself for the next match.

"We have no strength in depth [in goalkeeping] whatsoever. And the reason is that, with the Premier League, you have foreign players taking the positions of the home-grown lads."

It has long been argued that the flood of overseas footballers has raised the standards of English players by allowing them to perform alongside the likes of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo or Gianfranco Zola. However, Banks' argument is that, if you are a goalkeeper, the nature of the job makes it impossible to learn by playing alongside anyone. "You are either in the team or you are not."

Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Banks' former club Stoke do not have Englishmen as reserve keeper. At Tottenham, all three keepers are foreign.

Ross Turnbull, a graduate of the Middlesbrough Academy, has been understudying Petr Cech for more than three years at Chelsea, during which time the 27-year-old has played four Premier League games. It might have been better for his career, if not his bank balance, had Turnbull, who spent much of his time at Boro in the shadow of Mark Schwarzer, had looked lower down the league for a club.

"You can't really stay if you are not first choice," Banks said. "When Shay Given lost his place to Joe Hart, he did exactly the right thing by asking to move to Aston Villa. He was too good to be someone's understudy."

Banks, speaking at Old Trafford to mark the 90th year of the Littlewoods Football Pools, argued that neither of Manchester United's keepers were in Hart's class. Sir Alex Ferguson, who spent £20m on David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard, has said he regrets rejecting an opportunity to sign Hart when he was with Shrewsbury.

"I am sure he does wish he'd signed Joe Hart," Banks said. "If you have a good goalkeeper, it makes the job of the back four so much easier."

Endangered species: English goalies

Percentage of home-produced goalkeepers league by league:

Bundesliga 83 15/18 German

La Liga 75 15/20 Spanish

Serie A 6012/20 Italian

Premier League 25 5/20 English

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone