Regular balls.ie readers will recall my love for Third Choice Goalkeepers. They get a nice trip to the European Championships, get to train with their maters and rarely have to worry about the pressure of playing in a big game. They really are the luckiest men at Euro 2016.
For those of you unfamiliar with the lore of Third Choice Goalkeepers, here are some tropes to look out for;
- The older, little (or un-) capped, career back up.
- The young up and comer coming along for "experience".
- The token local player in a squad playing all over the world.
- The player from the second tier.
- The sole obscure club representative at the tournament.
Nearly all of these lads will tick one of these boxes. Without further ado, here's this years TGCs;
Alban Hoha; 28 years old he has one cap from November 2015. He only became third choice after another keeper left the Albanian set up to play for newly established the Kosovo team. He's the only player from Partizan Tirana in the squad. The only other local based played is the 38 year old second choice keeper with 7 caps.
Benoît Costil; 28 years old and uncapped. He has spent the last couple of seasons with Rennes but spent most of his career in the French second tier. A true TGC.
Silviu Lung Jr; 27 year old plays for Astra Giurgiu in Romania. He has 3 caps (1 in 2010, 1 in 2011 and 1 in 2013). You may recognise the name too. His dad was in goal for Ireland's famous penalty shoot out win over Romania in Italia 90.
Marwin Hitz; 28 years old and with 2 caps from 2015. he plays with Augsberg in Germany and is most famous for sabotaging the penalty spot against Cologne last December
Tom Heaton; 30 years old and a single cap as an 87th minute sub from a recent England friendly v Australia. The Burnley stopper won promotion from the Championship this season so should add to his single season in the top tier of English football from 2014/15.
Guilherme Marinato; 30 years old, he made his debut for Russia in November shortly after receiving Russian citizenship. The Brazilian born keeper is the first naturalised citizen (non-USSR) to play for Russia. He has been Lokomotiv Moscow's number one since 2007.
Jan Novotna; 32 year old, he has two caps with his only start coming last November in a frinedly at home to Iceland. He's the Rapid Vienna sub keeper in Austria (playing 12 of 38 league games last year).
Owain Fôn Williams; 32 year old, he has one cap despite being called up for the first time in 2009. Having played most of his football in Leagues One and Two in England he spent 2015/16 with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and is their first player at a European Championships. Oh and he's an artist too.
Bernd Leno; 24 years old, he made his debut last week as Germany lost 3-1 to Slovakia. Leno, who plays with Bayer Leverkausen, played the first half and conceded twice. He has 5 full seasons behind him in the Bundesliga.
Alan Mannus; 34 years old, he has 8 caps. The only player with St Johnstone at the tournament, the goalkeeper is also the only player at Euro 2016 to have played for Shamrock Rovers.
Artur Boruc; 36 years old and has 63 caps. The ex-Holy Goalie is the only Bournemouth player at Euro 2016. Poland have 3 experienced keepers at the tournament with all of them having 25+ caps. Wojciech Szczęsny may even be third choice despite being the starter in Euro 2012.
Mykyta Shevchenko; 23 years old, he's uncapped. The keeper is with Shakter Donetsk since 2009 but has yet to play for them. He has spent the last couple of seasons on loan with Zorya Luhansk.
Ivan Vargić; 29 years old and he has 2 caps. His debut came as an 89th minute sub and his second cap came as a 91st minute sub. He's the only player from HNK Rijeka at the tournament but joins Lazio this summer.
Tomáš Koubek; 23 year old who made his debut as a sub in May as Czech Republic beat Malta 6-0. He's the only player from Slovan Liberec to make it to Euro 2016.
Sergio Rico; 22 years old, he made his debut in June as a 76th minute sub against South Korea in a game played in Austria. The Sevilla keeper was sub for their Europa League triumph over Liverpool in May.
Harun Tekin; 26 years old, he's uncapped. The only player from Bursapor in the Turkish squad has been called up to squad for a year now but yet to make his debut.
Jean-François Gillet; 37 year old, he's earned 9 caps with his debut all the way back in 2009 and his last cap in February 2013. He's spent most of his career in Italy but played the second half of last season with Mechelen (on loan from Catania). He received a 43 month ban for match fixing in 2013, which was lowered to 13 months on appeal.
Shay Given; 40 years old, he has 134 caps. Although Keiron Westwood might tick the box for second tier keeper, we think Ireland will buck the trend and have the super-experienced Given as TCG for Euro 2016. He was first choice in 2012 but Stoke City's sub keeper is the oldest man in the tournament this time round.
Federico Marchetti; 33 years old, he has 11 caps. Marchetti played 3 games in the 2010 World Cup but became somewhat of a scapegoat for their early exit and didn't feature at all for 3 years after that. Now TCG, the Lazio man is looking for his first cap since 2013.
Patrick Carlgren; 24 years old, he has one cap from 2016 (in a domestic only friendly v Finland). The only AIK player in the tournament, he was keeper for Sweden as they won the 2015 European Under 21 championships.
Ramazan Özcan; 31 years old, he has 7 caps. He had to wait 6 years after his debut in 2008 for his second cap. He leaves Ingolstadt 04 for Bayer Leverkausen this summer.
Ingvar Jónsson; 26 years old, he has 5 caps (all from friendlies). The only player from Norwegian second tier side Sandefjord at the tournament.
Péter Gulácsi; 26 years old, he has 3 caps. The former Liverpool player (he didn't play) spent last season with Red Bull Leipzig in the German second tier, where he found himself second choice for much of the season.
Anthony Lopes; 25 years old, he has 4 caps. The Lyon goalkeeper is the only man born in France ever to play for Portugal. He made his Portuguese debut last year.