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8 Goalkeepers Who Have Annoyed Irish Fans Down The Years

Paul O'Hara
By Paul O'Hara
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In the previous round of international fixtures, Irish fans were treated to the gloriously incompetent antics of Gibraltar's Jordan Pérez, a fireman by training who couldn't seem to kick the ball properly, apart from his unfortunate but spectacularly-taken own goal. He was substituted after an hour with the score at 7-0 to Ireland and received a seemingly genuine standing ovation for his pluck.

While Ireland's easing off may have been a factor, his replacement didn't concede a single goal. To be honest, this writer found Pérez's haplessness to be more grating than endearing - he seemed to lack the most basic of goalkeeping skills and resembled an outfield player who had been press-ganged into wearing the gloves, rather than a man selected to defend his country's net. In short, Jordan Pérez meant well (and his Twitter feed suggests he's a decent lad) but it must have been annoying for his deputy and it was annoying for me.

His antics reminded us that Lansdowne Road has a proud history of witnessing goalkeepers of a much higher standard display every exasperating trick in the goalkeeper's arsenal. The lazy stereotype dictates that the main offenders were natives of southern or eastern Europe or South America and would hit the deck for inordinate amounts of time as soon as their side took the lead. Of course, the trope of the annoying/mental keeper pays no heed to national boundaries, but the whining of the panel and po-faced pronouncements from co-commentators have reinforced that prejudice to this day. We've tried to be as objective as possible in our look back, but as always, let us know who we've ommitted.

Vítor Baia

Portgual's long-serving number one throughout the 1990s, Baia's perceived arrogance and awful hair was enough of a combination to set the Irish crowd against him during the qualifiers for Euro '96. Defender Fernando Couto also met the criteria for ridicule and John Aldridge wasted no time in letting him know what it meant to him when Baia turned Steve Staunton's cross into his own net to give Ireland a famous, but ultimately futile 1-0 win.



Rustu Recber (Turkey)

The Euro 2000 playoff against Turkey is best remembered for the riot that ensued after the final whistle of the second leg, which saw Irish players and officals, but notably Tony Cascarino, get to grips with the Turkish police. What is somewhat less remembered these days are the timewasting antics of Rustu Recber in the Turkish goal during the first leg, which finished in a very satisfactory and ultimately sufficient 1-1 draw for his side. As the Sportsfile image above shows, he may have acted the maggot again four years later in Lansdowne, a 2-2 friendly which was best remebered for the Jordan Pérez-esque antics of the third Turkish keeper on the field that night - miraculously, he didn't concede.


Ebrahim Mirzapour (Iran)


In late 2001, Ireland faced Iran in an intercontinental playoff to book their place in Japan and Korea. The first leg was in Dublin and a well-supported Iran were content to secure a 0-0 draw, their keeper Mirzapour did what pretty much everybody in the ground expected him to do - feign injury and roll about the place until the final whistle or an Irish goal. Luckily, Ireland took a 2-0 lead to Tehran,which included a beautifully-converted penalty after Jason McAtreer was brought down to concede a beautifully-converted penalty to restore a sense of justice. As we can see above, he was wearing tracksuit bottoms on the night, a fact which instantly added to the sense of distrust afforded to his behaviour.

Iker Casillas (Spain)


San Iker gets on this list of irksome custodians not because he was a cheat or a time-waster or a lucky sod, but because he did just about enough to keep Ireland from progressing to the last eight of the World Cup in 2002 thanks to his penalty saves during the game and in the shootout. Perhaps he was a bit of a lucky sod in this instance  - he only got to wear the number one shirt for La Roja that year because the great Santiago Cañizares was ruled out of the squad after dropping a bottle of aftershave on his foot in the lead-up to the tournament.

Pascal Zuberbuhler (Switzerland)

With the French accepted as the likely group winners, Ireland's other great rivals in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, along with unexpected challengers Israel, were the Swiss. Minding the net for the Nati was one Pacal Zueberbuhler, a man who looks like a ski instructor who'd constantly criticise your form on the slopes while sleazily chatting up your girlfriend. He may not have done anything particularly dastardly in his stifling of Brian Kerr's attack, but he did more than enough to see his side safely to Germany.


Martin Heeb (Liechtenstein)

It's no surprise that when Ireland "drew 0-0 with a mountaintop", as the Indo put it at the time, the home side's goalkeeper was named man of the match. On that humiliating day for Irish football back in 1995, Martin Heeb held off 37 attempts on his goal before hanging around after the final whistle to remove the nets and corner flags from the field - he was the groundsman at the park where the agonising game had taken place.

Leigh Richmond Roose (Wales)


Roose was a true Victorian eccentric and along with the great William 'Fatty' Foulke, he was the foremost British goalkeeper in the first decade of the twentieth century. A medical student, he was registered as an amateur but was a pro in all but name. When playing for Stoke City the Welshman insisted that he be picked up by carriage from his London home, taken to Euston station and brought by carriage from Stoke station to the Victoria grounds. He courted the celebrities of the day, wore Savile Row suits when his contemporaries were in flat caps and hobnail boots and met his end on the Somme aged 38 in 1916. Though he was one of the greats of his day, his lasting legacy remains the change to the Laws of the Game that he brought about. Until 1912, goalkeepers could handle anywhere inside their own half, but Roose's rugby-style charges upfield with the ball were deemed too damaging to the spectacle of the game.

While this tactic would certainly have annoyed the boys in St Patrick's blue (as Ireland were at the time), there is one story that definitely caused consternation on this side of the water. In 1909, Roose travelled with Wales to Belfast for that year's International Championship fixture with Ireland. Before leaving Liverpool, Roose told the assembled press that he would be playing with two heavily-bandaged, broken fingers. News spread to Belfast that the great man would be playing with a serious injury and a large, expectant crowd turned up with increased hopes of an Irish win. What they didn't know was that the injury had been a simple but effective ploy and naturally Wales went on to win 3-2. Roose's story is a truly fascinating one and is worth exploring further for history nerds and goalkeeping geeks alike.

Dudu Aouate (Israel)


This is not a power ranking, but it's pretty incontestable that Dudu is the Daddy of dickheads who have stood between the sticks against Ireland. At Lansdowne Road back in June 2005, when his Israel side clawed their way back from a 2-0 deficit, the then Racing Santander gloveman produced an almost artful display of cuntery - he feigned injury, he was booked for wasting time and most egregiously of all, he conned referee Kyros Vassaras into sending off Andy O'Brien for what was definitely not a smack in the face. To this day, the very mention of his stupid fucking name (his real name is David) is enough to enrage any Irish fan.


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