Wednesday 29 Apr
Updated Wednesday 29 Apr 14:00
Interviews

Former Player Blog - Jimmy Walker

The former Hammers goalkeeper explains how to save a penalty and why Adrian is one of the best keepers around
Former West Ham United goalkeeper Jimmy Walker made 20 appearances in a claret and blue shirt in two seasons at the Boleyn Ground, collecting an impressive eight clean sheets in the process.
 
Thosse games included Walker’s famous penalty save from Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge in the League Cup fourth round in October 2004. 

Blogging exclusively for www.whufc.com, Walker explains the thought process behind saving spot kicks, why Adrian is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and talks about that famous day at Stamford Bridge…
 

I’ve seen quite a bit of West Ham this year and I’ve been down to the training ground a couple of times this season. I know Marge Margetson, the former goalkeeping coach quite well, having been goalkeeper coach at Peterborough United I was interested to see how the elite train these days. I trained alongside Adrian and Jussi which was fantastic. 

Chadwell has got a little bit busier since I left, and the boot room is certainly a lot brighter! But there are a lot of the same people there, the kitman Pete and Shirley and a few others. It was great to go back. 

This season, Adrian has been excellent. When he first joined he did well but the jury was still out. This year he’s really proved himself. Jussi is still a very good goalkeeper so for Adrian to make the number one spot his own is excellent. For me, he’s up there up for Player of the Year.

The other day, I was asked about who the best goalkeeper is in the Premier League is. I think this crop of goalkeepers is as good I can remember. There are ten or twelve excellent goalkeepers. Chelsea have got two of the best in the world. David De Gea has been excellent but for me, Hugo Lloris has been the best. He’s been superb all season and he’s made some big saves.

Having said that, Adrian is right up there with De Gea, and Lloris, he’s had several outstanding games. It’s a very strong field, good goalkeepers like Tim Howard and Asmir Begovic don’t get enough praise. 

Adrian saving his last three penalties is a great stat. Saving penalties is all about confidence. People think it’s easy for the goalie because there’s no pressure or expectation on them but I think it’s changed recently. Now, you are expected to have a decent ratio. The penalty takers are getting better so a save is even more impressive. To save three on the spin is an unbelievable record.

Confidence is a massive part of being a goalkeeper so when Adrian faces his fourth penalty, he’ll dive a split second earlier. The next taker will definitely know that stat and it could get into his head a little bit. 

Another change is the amount of technology used has increased massively. When I was at the club we had one analyst. Now, there’s five or six and every aspect is covered. 

You can definitely practise saving penalties. Obviously in training it’s not the same atmosphere as a match but that effects the taker more than the goalie. 

I had a situation at Peterborough when one of our goalkeepers hadn’t saved a penalty for a long while. The last 12 penalties had all gone in or something like that. Even the chairman had flagged it up. But we worked on it a lot in training and it did improve slightly. To have a goalkeeper who can save penalties is a great asset to have. 

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed facing penalties. I’ve always been confident and I think that stems from watching other goalkeepers closely who had good saving ratios. I learnt a lot as a teenager watching Paul Cooper and Steve Shay at Notts County. 

I’m often asked about saving Frank Lampard’s penalty. If I’m honest, I don’t really like talking about it! 

I’m joking of course. It was one of my first games, away at Chelsea, so it was a fantastic game to be thrown into. I remember it vividly and it was one of my stand out moments at West Ham.

I stood in the goal and there were seven or eight thousand fans behind me. The game was held up for about five minutes. I was getting a bit of abuse so I was thinking ‘I better save this!’ During the wait it must have been playing on Frank’s mind as well. I just tried to follow the ball and thankfully he put it close enough for me to save. It’s nice that it’s still remembered because it’s a great memory for me. 

Jimmy runs his own football coaching school for a range of ages and abilities. If you’re interested visit http://www.jimmywalkergk.co.uk/ to find out more.