Italy’s Dino-saur goalkeepers: Experience trumps youth

A goalkeeper is the most specialized position in soccer. And as with any other speciality with more experience one gets better at it. It is little wonder that most goalkeepers who start are usually over the age of 30. This is true for all the three big leagues.
La Liga has the youngest set of goalkeepers with an average age of 31 years, the Premiership in the middle with 33 years, and the Serie in keeping with their philosophy of prizing experience over youth have the oldest goalkeepers with an average age of just below 35.
The Italians of course have their role model Dino Zoff, a goalie of outstanding ability who at the age of 40 helped them win the World Cup in 1982. In keeping with that tradition no fewer than nine goalkeepers over the age of 35 years who are in their club squads and seen substantial playing minutes. Leading them is Gianluca Pagliuca of Ascoli, who turned 40 years on the 18 December 2006. Following him are Daniele Balli (Empoli), Alberto Fontana (Palermo), Luca Bucci (Parma), Gianluca Berti (Sampdoria) all 39 years of age.
The youngest starter is Livorno’s Marco Amelia, at age 24 years mentioned as a potential successor to Buffon. Inter’s Cesar is also relatively young at the age of 28 years. Moreover, there are only six goalies in their 20’s in the Serie as compared to the ten in the Premiership. The La Liga also has six goalkeepers in their 20’s but the average age of the other goalkeepers is tightly clustered around the early 30’s. In the Premiership Ben Foster (Watford) at 23 years and Scott Carson (Charlton Athletic) at 21 years are the starting goalkeepers with Carson mentioned as a potential England squaddie. The Liga has Iker Casillas (Real) at 26 years and Victor Valdes (Barca) at 25 years of age doing duty.

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