An undecided Gareth Southgate called up four goalkeepers for the national squad, perhaps the England manager should have called Dean Lightwood (writes Kevin Anderson).
The Eastbourne Borough goalkeeping coach could have given Gareth the inside track on Burnley keeper and surprise England candidate Nick Pope - a former Lightwood protege.
Dean was head goalkeeping coach at the Charlton Athletic Academy when Pope, then a 16-year-old, was released by Ipswich Town and snapped up by the South London club.
“Young players do sometimes need a second chance,” recalls Lightwood. “I was sure Nick had real potential and during that 16 to 18 period we helped him to develop it. Since then he has gone from strength to strength. He won’t let England down if he gets his chance.”
Now Dean (left) oversees the young hopefuls at Borough. “Tim Brown is in charge of our goalkeeping coaching at the Development Centre, with over 30 young keepers – aged 6 to 16 – attending every week. Charlie Horlock (the Borough and Hastings United pro) does much of the coaching, and I look in a couple of times a month.”
This Easter the club hosts a two-day goalkeeping course, with Lightwood leading the sessions, assisted by Horlock and Mark Smith. It promises to cover every possible aspect, from the warm-ups to the penalty saves. There is also the prospect of a Q&A with a current Premier League goalkeeper. “We will put a cap on numbers, so participants can get personal attention,” says Dean. “It will be intensive but great fun.”
Are goalkeepers really crazy? Lightwood, perhaps the quietest of the Borough first team staff, is no guardián loco, and quite a Mr Sensible.
“It can be a bit lonely and it’s not for the faint-hearted, but there are specialised skills – which is why we run our courses.” Dean enjoyed a distinguished career in the Sports keeper’s jersey – including a Senior Cup penalty save against Crawley on his final appearance – before turning to coaching. His network of contacts in the goalkeepers’ union, and beyond, regularly comes in useful. “I still do occasional sessions with pro clubs, as well as some scouting. It was my Charlton link that helped to secure Archie Edwards, whom I have known since he was about seven! And I know Aldershot very well, which helped to identify and sign Mark Smith, who has been a real success as our current number one.”
“I had my stint at Charlton, and had opportunities to continue in a full time capacity with Charlton and the Albion. But it didn’t quite fit with my own career.”
Lightwood is in a high-powered post with Lloyds Bank. So goalkeeping is more of a hobby for you, Dean? “In a way but let’s call it a passion!”
For details on the Easter goalkeeping course, visit: www.ebfc.co.uk