Interview with Miguel Angel España, Spanish national teams goalkeeping coach.
“Spain has the highest level of goalkeeping coaches in the world”
One of the figures that currently must be present on any football team coaching staff is the goalkeeping coach. And this also happens naturally in all national teams categories. This figure has a name: Miguel Angel España, former professional goalkeeper and since 2006 national teams goalkeeping coach in the RFEF.
He is undoubtedly the best person to explain what this very specific work consist of within a technical staff team, and how this work is planned in the diferent national teams categories:
“The most important thing i carry out with all national teams categories is tracking the goalkeepers and the contact with thier clubs. This is one of the things that prides me the most after 10 years working in the RFEF. I have a fluid contact with my goalkeeping coaches colleagues of the Spanish Premier League and 2nd Division. Without their cooperation it would not be possible to have so accurately all the information of the spanish goalkeepers. The most important challenge is to know who are the best goalkeepers in the country, and have reports and fluid communication with clubs. And then have the responsibility of choosing the goalkeepers who come to all the different national teams, a fact that would not have been possible if the National Teams Coordinator, Gines Melendez, and all my coaches teammates had not placed in me the confidence.”
As the last part of this work, the goalkeeping coach continues: “the final part is the specific preparation of the goalkeepers when they come to train or prepare a tournament; this is quite different than they do with their clubs. Here we have 3 days and don’t have much time to work. The most important thing is to use the little time we have to gather the best possible information about their technical and tactical conditions. ”
About What does or not a child begins to play football wanting to be goalkeeper, one of the positions in the field perhaps more complicate and with a big responsability, Miguel Angel España notes that: “The majority of the goalkeepers are frustrated players. In my case, for example, as my friends they were all older than me, if I wanted to play with them I had to do it as goalkeeper. But for 30 years this dynamic has changed.
For many years, it was very difficult that the boys wanted to be goalkeepers, but today, thanks to the examples and idols we have in this country, with figures such as Iker Casillas, David De Gea, Victor Valdes … has made this dynamic change because those examples for kids are very important. Being so big internationally makes children want to look like their idols. ”
The Spanish national team goalkeeping coach also talks about another aspect that always is important, the strong personality of golakeepers: “It’s true that, logically, you must to have a very good technical and tactics conditions but also the personality is so important. The goalkeepers are people with personality, character, who are not afraid to take decisions. This is very significant. Obviously not 100% satisfied, but you need people with a special character because this position with a serious responsability. That’s what makes the difference between a normal and a great goalkeeper. Knowing how to act in moments with a high pressure. ” And here also comes the important work of goalkeeping coach: “It’s the labour of the coaches to give complete confidence to the boys. It’s what makes the differences. There may be goalkeepers with great technical and tactical level but then, when they play in a game before 80,000-people audience, a Champions League or a European championship or World Cup match, some of them play it as if they were in their living room and there are others will panic. But it is also important for us trying to remove the maximum possible pressure, give them confidence to fail. At the end the error is part of the sport. When choosing the best, those who come to the national team, those details are important.”
About the technical features which España talks for becoming a good goalkeeper and playing with the National Team: “of course he must control all of the sides concerning to goalkeeper. 25-30 years ago being powerful, agile, save the ball and handle the area under the goal was enough . But because the change about the back-pass rule in 1992, if you don’t control the offensive game you got harder. The control of the offensive game with your feet is essential. ”
“This is the same we are trying to give to the National Teams but with a own thinking: Our goalkeepers must adapt to our style of game. Both the back line and goalkeeper usually take an important part at the begining of our game because of this we try to call players that control this area”.
About the training for the goalkeeper into the National Team, España says:”We have not much time to work with them that is why we use the work they make every day into their clubs. The technical progress is too tough for us.”
About the scouting work, the goalkeeper coach says:”We use several ways to look players. We watch them playing or training with their teams. Also through the Territorial Federations. The Spanish Championship of Territorial Teams is the best screening for choosing players. Also the regular reports of their teams. I am in touch with all of my mates and they let me know if is worth to follow a player”
About the process to build a call, Miguel Ángel España takes a responsability because: “The coach has the last word but fortunately all of my mates counts on me for choosing the goalkeepers. It is a team work and I think this is the reason for our success.”
Finally, España recognizes the worth of our goalkeepers: “We have the best level of goalkeeper and goalkeeper coaches. I would like to emphasise the coaches training by expert courses and the effort of the clubs for providing them of a necessary significance”.