Big interview: Nicky Weaver on the modern-day goalkeeper, working with Jos Luhukay and Sheffield Wednesday's style of play

They get paid to keep clean sheets and stop the ball going in the back of the net.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 5:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 5:33 pm
Goalkeeping coach Nicky Weaver

But the role of a modern-day goalkeeper has changed and moved on in recent years.

Now there is a demand for the man in between the sticks to be efficient with their feet as well as their hands.

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Nicky Weaver, Wednesday’s goalkeeping coach, told The Star: “You have got to be comfortable in possession as a goalkeeper.

“You have also got to be able to play short and receive the ball under pressure. If you look at someone like Ederson at Manchester City, he is probably the extreme.

“The outfield players give him the ball on his goal line when people are closing him down but he doesn’t panic.

“Goalkeeping is changing but obviously the pitches are a lot better now than what they used to be so it is a lot easier in that sense.”

Weaver was appointed first-team goalkeeping coach last month.

For Weaver, it is a case of reducing the risk.

“I always say ‘don’t put the ball at risk’ so try and play out when you can,” he said. “But if it is too tight, don’t do it and then we will go long and hopefully pick up the first or second balls.

“It is about trying to develop goalkeepers in every area and helping them improve.”

Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood

Brazilian superstar Ederson has been a revelation for City. His sweeper-keeper style has added an extra dimension to the reigning Premier League champions attacking brand of football.

Not only has Ederson established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the world, he has also redefined the standards of goalkeeping distribution.

“When I started my career, all your work with a goalkeeping coach was handling and goalkeeping drills,” said ex-City player Weaver.

“Whereas now you are putting on passing drills. You are getting into different sorts of passes both with the left and right foot as you have got to be comfortable with both feet.

“Training does adapt and I have spent time watching other goalkeepers train as well.

“You look at people like Jordan Pickford, who was comfortable with his feet for England in the World Cup. He spends a lot of time with his feet because 70 per cent of the touches you get in a game are with your feet.

“It is obviously a big thing that has come around in the last five to six years but it really is at the forefront of everyone’s minds now.

“But, the most important thing is still keeping that ball out of the net.”

Jos Luhukay, the Wednesday manager, sets high standards of his goalkeepers.

Weaver said: “The goalkeepers have to be comfortable on the ball as he [Luhukay] wants them to play out from the back.

“We work on it in training to make them feel as comfortable as they can on a match-day.

“Now, we can’t recreate that pressure at Hillsborough in front of 25,000 fans. But if you keep doing it repetitively in training then they get more comfortable with it when they are under pressure.

“It is a big ask for them because it is not something they have really been asked to do that much before but it is the way the manager wants to play.”

It is a high risk strategy but there is big reward if you get it right.

“It is a great learning curve for them and I can only imagine this is how football is going to develop in the future,” said Weaver.

“Obviously with Keiren [Westwood], he has not played yet this season but Keiren is comfortable with the ball at his feet. He has got two good feet and often starts counter attacks.

“We like them to play out and to do it as early and quick as we can but, ultimately, not to put the ball at too much risk.”

Boyhood Weaver, a popular and well-respected figure behind the scenes, is enjoying working with Luhukay.

The ex-academy goalkeeping coach said: “Jos has been fantastic with me personally He and his assistant Remy [Reynierse] has welcomed me into the first-team fold with open arms.

“I have known Bully [Lee Bullen] a long, long time so that was never going to be a problem.

“It has been about as easy a transition as it could have been.

“I was already at the club so it just means instead of going in one office in the morning that I’m going in another!

“It has been really easy and I’m really enjoying it and hopefully the goalkeepers are enjoying it too and it will be a successful season for them all.”

It means everything to Weaver to step up and work with the first-team.

“It’s the best job in the country for me,” he said. “I’m a Sheffield lad, support the club and I have been lucky enough to play for the club on two separate occasions.

“I have learned my trade over the last four years as an academy goalkeeping coach so it doesn’t get much better than getting the opportunity to step up.

“It is not something where I want to rest on my laurels. I want to kick on and become the best coach that I can be and make the goalkeepers the best they can be.

“Hopefully that will happen and they will enjoy it a long the way.”