The goalkeeper position is by far as difficult as the striker when it comes to soccer. A goalkeeper needs to have very sharp reflexes as well as excellent visual awareness, I really didn’t think about playing as a goalie but for obvious reasons my friends started pushing me towards that role. I hated it at first because in the beginning I was only able to use my head to make some saves due to my dependence on crutches, but im getting off topic so lets move on. I hold one person responsible for my stage as a goalkeeper, my cousin Joel. What he did to finally make me realize I had some potential was simple really, kicked the ball to the make pretend goal net that we made with our book bags and I just threw myself and blocked it. I remember he just laughed a little over how dramatic the whole situation turned but that’s how it would begin.
I’m assuming you guys read my second blog so I wont go into so much detail about all my training, at least that’s how I saw it. My cousin wouldn’t really play with me so much since we preferred to be doing other things rather than play soccer. My first few games were BAD, so bad that my own friends bullied me after every game. I decided to start practicing on my own but it didn’t really help so my uncle and my beloved friend “Chester” took time off to teach me some things, one of the things my uncle would do was to get me used to different types of soccer balls so I would lose fear whenever I played. Chester in the other hand would play with me Every afternoon and will always tell me to keep my eyes open regardless on how powerful the shot was, to be honest he gave me some sweet shots right to the face but everything I learned would pay off eventually. I also had idols I would look up to, among them were Oliver Khan, Jose Francisco Cevallos , Jacinto Espinoza, Jose Luis Chilavert, Rene Higuita, Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon and last but not least Benji Price (only selected few know who he is).
My goalkeeper nickname would ultimately stick between “Cevallitos” and “Iker” in later years but ill go into that later. My games at school were serious since we would set up rivalries against the other classes, at one point we would think we were unbeatable but it was when we lost to the girls team of our class that I realized I had to be more humble since the goals they scored on me were spectacular (top corner and trough the legs) very painful but a lesson was learned. The redemption would return after we beat the senior team of the school, those were kids twice our size and honestly superior physically so not even I know how I managed to stop all the shots they threw at me that rainy day. The score was 3-1 it would’ve ben a tied game but I managed to make the last save of the game even when I was in midfield when they tried to score from their own side, somehow I managed to outrun the ball and cleared it off the line. The rest of my school days in Ecuador were filled of similar games, my record there was two foot injuries, a bump on my head, a bloody mouth and 89 shots to the face. Those were indeed some great games and wouldn’t mind replaying them if it was possible.
When it was time for me to part ways with my childhood friends the stage of Iker would emerge. Because of the lack of knowledge about soccer in NY my teenage years were spent in my backyard with my second family, three die hard soccer fans just like me. I played in concrete and against adults so the transition wasn’t easy, but I mentioned all of this in one of my other blogs. The Iker phase would last until my 20th birthday leaving a record of a few fans that up to this day call me “arquerito” along with two broken watches, 100 broken beer bottles, 20 body scratches and some good laughs. In recent years I’ve been away from the game but I got to play goalie on a real soccer field before I called it quits, I also managed to meet some good people thanks to my sister being on her high school team, among those good fiends is the best defender I’ve had the chance to play with, the undisputed “Number 21”. A lot has happened since my last date with a soccer ball haha but at this point only god knows if ill ever play again, I know it sounds pessimistic but im also not in the best shape to play a game. What do I take from all of this? I can say that blocking all those shots gave me the confidence I might lack on a personal level, but I don regret anything and as always hoping to make a return someday. Its going to have to be something and someone special for that to happen, meanwhile I ask myself… Do I still have it in me?