It’s the most pressurised and scrutinsed position on a football pitch but, for Jamal Blackman, the basics of good goalkeeping are pretty simple.
“Everyone says it... the main thing as a goalkeeper is to keep the ball out of the goal,” the Chelsea loanee, on loan at Sheffield United for the entireity of the 2017/18 Championship season, smiles.
“In all levels of football, that’s the same. Obviously, the higher you go that does get more difficult. It’s a lot harder in the Championship; teams are more competitive, with the structure of the teams and their formations.
“As a goalkeeper, you can go 89 minutes where you don’t have much to do and in the other minute, you have to make a crucial save.
“Goalkeepers make a mistake, and it’s a goal conceded. Strikers make one, and they always get another chance. But that’s just the way it is.”
Thankfully for Blackman, and his manager Chris Wilder, mistakes have been few and far between since the 23-year-old arrived at Bramall Lane, after last season’s No.1 Simon Moore damaged his knee in a pre-season friendly at Rotherham.
Instead, Blackman has helped United make a storming start to life back in the Championship; a record of seven wins from 11 games sees them third in the table ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ipswich Town.
“I think I have done alright so far,” the 6ft 6in stopper, who spent last season on loan at Wycombe in League Two, admitted.
“Obviously, I am still learning and progressing in my career. I want to take as much as I possibly can on board.
“The Championship is a great league, a hard division. But it’s a great step for me, coming from League Two where I learned so much.
“To now play higher up in the league, is a great learning curve.”
A mixture of the sublime - a superb save to deny Brentford’s Lasse Vibe on the opening day - and the ugly, like plucking balls out of the air during an aerial bombardment in victory away at Bolton, has seen Blackman keep possession of the goalkeeper’s jersey so far, although he knows a fully-fit Moore and rookie stopper Jake Eastwood are waiting in the wings for their own opportunity.
“You learn from each game; no two games are the same,” Blackman added.
“There are always learning curves going on; we have a great goalkeeping coach in Darren Ward and Simon and Jake too, helping me to learn and to progress my career.
“It’s great to have these other goalkeepers around me. Training has been great. I am learning from them, they have strengths, and it’s helping me to become a better goalkeeper.”