Though the goalkeeper is known for saving shots and making those last minute fingertip saves, their role on the pitch is significantly more important than being a shot stopper. They unite and manage the defence during attacks from the opposition, ensuring that everyone is in the right position and no attacker is left unmarked. Their ability to remain vocal and keeping the defence organised is often the difference between having to make a save and the defenders themselves preventing a shot altogether. This ability to manage and oversee each individual is particularly important during corners, in which one mistake can result in conceding a goal.
Not only do goalkeepers manage the defence, but many have achieved the role of captain due to their ability to manage players across the pitch. What makes the role of the keeper so unique as captain is that they have the best view of the game. They can see every player, allowing them to map out strategies and micro-manage individuals to ensure everyone is where they should be. In addition to this, they can also map out the tendencies of opposing strikers and midfielders. While a midfielder would normally have to focus on getting back into position, a goalkeeper can continuously read the plays occurring in front of them, informing their own team of how they can adapt to counter each movement.
Some of the best goalkeepers of all time have also played the role as captain on the pitch. For example, Iker Casillas is the only captain in the history of football to have won eight different major trophies. These include La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup, Club World Cup, World Cup and the European Championships. It could be argued that his career as a captain and goalkeeper may have spanned over an even greater period of time, if it were not for the presence of a legendary captain Raul, who is argued to be one of the best players in football history.
Another key feature that makes the goalkeeper distinct from other players is their ability to motivate their teammates. During those difficult games, it can be hard for on-field captains to remain motivated. They may become exhausted themselves, limiting their ability to continuously motivate themselves and those around them. On the other hand, a goalkeeper can continuously motivate the team as players become more fatigued as the match progresses. They can remain vocal throughout, ensuring players keep their heads up and play to the best of their ability. This helps to create a sense of unity across the board, and will help players to keep pushing throughout those final minutes.
It could be argued that a great goalkeeper is not just a shot stopper, but the backbone of a great football team. Their unique perspective on the game provides them with an overview that no other player can achieve. When utilized correctly, it can help a goalkeeper manage each player and keep motivation high throughout the game.