Penalty Spot – A one on one with the keeper

by James Clark

This is the first article in what hopes to be an ongoing series, giving football fans a little insight into the world of a top flight goalkeeper. A big thanks to Melbourne Heart’s Clint Bolton for giving up his time to stand in front of the spot and be peppered with a few off the cuff questions.

Clint is arguably one of the most experienced keepers in the Hyundai A-League and NSL with around 480 games under his belt since joining the Brisbane Strikers way back in 1993. He was part of Frank Farina’s team who went on to win the NSL Title in front of 40,446 parochial Queenslanders at Lang Park in 1997. He kept a memorable clean sheet that afternoon after going head to head against Sydney United’s Zeljko ‘Spider’ Kalac. Clint’s strong work ethic and his ability to stay fit and injury free has helped him be one of the most consistent performers in the game.

Goalkeepers have always been known as being a little bit different and at times left of centre. Do you follow any strange pre-game routines or have any idiosyncrasies that you would care to share with everyone?

Other than just relaxing and getting into a good frame of mind before each game, I like to down a bowl of porridge on match day. To keep myself focussed on the game for the full 90mins, I believe it’s vitally important to always keep the communication and talk up between the players.

In your opinion who has the hardest shot in the A-League?

Last year I would have to say it was Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory) as he could really fire it like a rocket, although it may surprise a lot of people to know that Alessandro Del Perio’s shot is very powerful for a player of his height and size. The nature of his kicking style with a minimal back-swing makes his shots deceptively quick from the free kick spot and very difficult to judge.

Who was/is the biggest influence on your keeping career?

The biggest influence on my football career would have to be Jimmy Fraser (Former NSW and Australian Representative goalkeeper 1969 to 1976 and Coaching Director – International Goalkeepers Academy Sydney). Jimmy has been a tremendous supporter of my career and is a real old school coach who also has the great ability to tell the odd awful joke.

 

John Filan (Former Australian keeper and current Goalkeeping Coach Sydney FC) has also had big impact on my career from when he coached me at my time at Sydney FC from 2008-2010. 

What are your passions away from the pitch?

I am a huge music fan, in particular Hard Rock and Metal. Australia has a very strong underground Hard Rock/Metal scene and I love to head to as many gigs as possible in my spare time. I love nothing more then heading north to visit my old man to go Barramundi fishing up in the rivers and estuaries of Far North Queensland. I’m not too good with sea sickness when it comes to heading offshore so I stick to the safety and calmness of the inland systems. It’s a great way to unwind and relax after a busy A-League season.

What team/player’s jersey did you wear to training when growing up?

I grew up playing for my local junior side in Bundaberg called ‘Aston Villa’. I then adopted the Birmingham club and have followed their progress ever since. They have had a difficult time of it in the EPL of late but with a big emphasis on youth in the side, their future is looking good.

Can you remember where you were when Mark Schwarzer and Jon Aloisi helped the Socceroos qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup?

I certainly can like most Australia football fans. I was glued to the TV at home and can recall every moment from Schwarzer’s first save to Duke’s (Mark Viduka) unfortunate miss. With Schwarzer then keeping out a second, I just had a deep belief that Aloisi was the man for the job and wouldn’t miss. It was an emotional moment and I freely admit to getting a little teary like many Aussies who were lucky enough to witness that most memorable sporting moment. I only wish I had been there to experience the atmosphere of the packed Olympic Stadium.

Who is your favourite international keeper past or present?

That would have to be Manchester United and Denmark Legend Peter Schmeichel. While he wasn’t known as the most technically brilliant and considered a little unorthodox in his methods, I always admired his keeping style. I liked his unorthodox nature because I feel I am similar in many ways to how he approached the game.

Who is the Heart’s serial practical joker/pest in the dressing sheds or on road trips?

Well after a memorable end of season trip to Bali after Season 1, I would have to say the title falls to Aziz Behich. His small stature certainly belies his behaviour in the sheds and he’s always one to try and make the players laugh through his ‘Rooster Behaviour’. A fun guy to have around and he strives to maintain the positive atmosphere on road trips and in the dressing room.

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