Playing in goal is without doubt the loneliest position on the football field; the only time it ever gets lonelier then it is during spells of inactivity is when you make a mistake.
As a former goal-keeper myself I know both the emotion of making a critical penalty save to stave off relegation and the collective feeling of thankfulness that emanates from your team-mates; or the collective judgement and disappointment that your mistake has just cost you the game.
I was lucky to be pretty confident in my goalkeeping abilities (perhaps wrongly so) and would very rarely let mistakes get to me but I also, usually, had the full support of my team-mates and people around me who knew what I was capable of on my good days, which came around more often than my bad ones.
So the idea that you could be made a scapegoat in between the sticks is a harrowing one, from professionals in the Premier League to those playing in high school.
Which brings me to Daniel Cui.
Daniel was a freshman goalkeeper playing varsity football in California and his team was enduring a poor run of form. When it became clear he was being made the scapegoat for the team’s indifference one of his team-mates took the unusual step of sending a public message of support for his custodian, through Facebook.
The social media site gets a lot of stick for the things it does wrong but after one profile picture of Daniel making a save went up it was followed by hundreds more from around the school. The knock-on effect was Daniel’s confidence shot-up and along with that so did his performances as he went on to perform excellently for the rest of the season, including a match-winning performance for his school.
You can see the video here, which highlights firstly how much confidence plays a role in goalkeeping at every level and also how the support of your team-mates and fans can really galvanise your performance…
Not to mention that Facebook isn’t all bad.