The Sunday Mail
“THE development of new tactics by coaches has seen a sudden rise in the value of goalkeepers…keepers have become not only the last line of defence but also the first line of attack. This is a welcome development, may it continue,” commented legendary former Warriors goalkeeper Japhet “Short Cat” Mparutsa in a recent Facebook post.
Mparutsa was adding his views to the debate triggered by the rise of goalies who are more that shot stoppers.
Liverpool’s Alison and Manchester City’s Ederson typify the new breed of goalkeepers who are so comfortable with the ball so much that they can actually initiate swift attacks.
Locally, Harare City goalkeeper Ryan Harrison is one of the few keepers who can play the ball.
Standing at 1.9m tall, the 32-year-old Harrison captured Zimbabwe’s attention when he became the first white goalkeeper to play for a top flight side since the Premiership’s inception in 1992, when he debuted against Black Rhinos on April 21.
His easiness on the ball, aggressive shouts and management of the back four are some of the qualities that have won the the British coach a number of admirers.
“Modern day football requires a keeper who is able to start play, organise the defenders and pass perfectly with either feet,” a super confident Harrison told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“As a little kid, I liked to be a keeper but I also wanted to play, so I would leave the goal and join the in-field players… like a keeper sweeper.
“Going through the academies in England and my professional stint at Swansea City, I perfected the technique as I would stay behind hitting a couple of balls with different angles,” added Harrison, a journeyman keeper who has also seen duty with Santos, Bidvest Wits, Chippa United and Golden Arrows in South Africa.
Harrison missed Harare City’s 1-0 win over champions FC Platinum last Wednesday due to injury but his father Mark, who is credited for introducing an exciting brand of football this season, says Ryan’s technical ability is the reason why he brought his son to Zimbabwe.
“Part of the modern game requires a keeper who is able to restart the game, one who is comfortable with the ball in his feet, supporting the back four and providing an outlet for the defenders to change play.
“Gone are the days when goalkeepers were viewed only as shot stoppers, or were judged only by their ability to cut crosses. We are in a new era and we are trying to introduce it at Harare City.
“That’s one of the reasons I brought in Ryan, I know he is good with his feet. To be fair, him and Max (Nyamupangedengu) have been working very well, last season we were kicking the ball too much of the time,” said the City coach.