Monday, 23 March 2015

An Interview with ... Josh Vickers

 I was never interested in being a goalkeeper growing up, I modelled myself on Gary Lineker.  Unlike Lineker, I never sh*t myself on a football pitch, but also unlike Lineker I never played professional football. In fact I never got close.
Goalkeepers for me as a youngster were there to be beaten, and at times embarrassed. However I knew a good goalkeeper when I saw one, be it on a Sunday morning in the Southend Junior League, or on the Big Match that afternoon.
Neville Southall was the first goalkeeper to take my breath away.  He was an outstanding goalkeeper, a shot-stopper of extreme quality.  I used to love the way he flew across his goal to tip over or wide shots.  He really imposed himself in goal, it was like he was saying to the strikers "come on then, score past me, I bloody dare you"  In later years I saw him play for Canvey Island.  He had a real presence in goal then, a bloody massive presence.  The man was huge.  It was like watching Big Daddy in goal.
Peter Schmeichel was then the next keeper who took my eye in that fantastic Manchester United side.  Being a Spurs fan we never really troubled Man U in the 90s, but when we did break through on goal, you then had this massive great Dane in the sticks blocking the way.  Schmeichel was a colossus.  I can still vividly remember a succession of saves he made against Kevin Keegan's Newcastle in the mid 90s, in a game that had a big say in the destination of the title, but what sticks in my mind is a save he made against Ivan Zamorano in the home leg of United's tie against Inter Milan in the Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg in 1999.  Amazing how a save of 16 years ago sticks in your head, but that save was amazing.  A point blank header from Chilean was somehow kept out by Schmeichel, I didn't know how he managed it.  I still don't now.

Why am I wittering on about goalkeepers, well I think I've since another potential great this season.  Ok he may only be playing non-league football at present, but Josh Vickers is going to be a star of the game.  Josh is currently on loan to Concord Rangers till the end of the season from Arsenal, and he is regularly pulling out saves, which defy belief.  In Concord's recent home game against St Albans, Josh pulled off a save which Southall and Schmeichel would have doffed their goalkeeping caps too.With the cross pulled back to the on-rushing St Albans forward ten yards from goal, the striker slammed it to goal, and ran away celebrating...Vickers twisted in the air, and kept the ball out with a brilliant save.   You couldn't applaud, you just stood agog. It was a fantastic save.  The Concord Rangers bench just laughed, Josh had been doing this kind of stuff since he arrived from Arsenal.

I'm glad I managed to get an interview with Josh now, as this boy is going right to the top.  I asked him about training with Arsenal during the week, and playing for Concord.

At what age were you signed by Arsenal?

I signed with Arsenal at age 7, I actually signed the day England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, so it's an easy one to remember and a day I'll never forget!

That makes me feel old, I won't tell you how old I was that day!  Do you train with Arsenal during the week at Arsenal, and then play matches for Concord?

Yeah I train all week for Arsenal, and train with Concord on Thursday nights, and then obviously play for Concord whenever they have a game.

Has Arsene Wenger involved you in 1st team training at all?

Yes I've trained with the 1st team on a number of occasions, it's always nice to be involved with them.

Training with Arsenal's 1st team, who is their best finisher?

I'd have to say Alexis Sanchez, he is an unbelievable player and he trains exactly how he plays.  He is always doing extra, whether it be in the gym or staying out after training.

Has Arsene Wenger spoken to you about your future at Arsenal?  What do you think the future holds for you at Arsenal?

My contract runs out at the end of the season with Arsenal, so at the moment I'm just concentrating on my football, and see what happens.

You spent last season at loan on Canvey, what is the difference between playing for Canvey, and playing for Concord?

I only have good things to say about both Canvey and Concord, they have helped me progress as a player and also as a person!  The step up from the Ryman League to Conference football is noticeable, the quality of player is a bit better.

You seem to have all the attributes to be a top quality goalkeeper, excellent shot-stopping, good feet, commanding at crosses and good distribution.  What do you think your biggest strength is?

I'd probably say my shot-stopping, that's what a lot of other people say as well.  I'd also say my organisation, that's what being out on loan has helped me improve the most.

What goalkeepers did you look up to when you were younger, and what keepers do you rate now?

Obviously when I was younger and being an Arsenal fan, David Seaman was the one for me.  Currently I like to watch a lot of goalkeepers when they play, but my top 3 would be Manuel Neuer, Joe Hart and David De Gea.

Can't believe you haven't put Hugo Lloris in there! (I'm a Spurs fan) Do you rate him?

Yeah he is a top class keeper, he reads the game really well and is an excellent shot-stopper, and begrudgingly he has been one of Tottenham's stand out players this season!

What do you do in your spare time?  What tv/music/films do you like?

I like to spend time with my family and girlfriend, when I'm not at football.  Also football is always on the telly at home, as I'm watching most games that are on.

Is your girlfriend happy with all the football you watch??

To be fair she doesn't mind it that much, we try to go to the Emirates as much as possible with us both being Arsenal fans.  But she doesn't like Super Sunday when there's 3 games on in a row, that's too much for her and I can see her looking at me trying to get me to turn the television over, but that's not happening!

Is there any other sport you enjoy playing?

I like playing golf to relax and I enjoy a good round

Do you have a handicap at golf, or is it just a bit of fun?

Once I get into the swing of things (no pun intended!) I'd probably play off 12/14, but it's mainly for fun, and a good way to unwind.

Who has the worst dress sense at the club (Concord)?

I'd have to say from what I've seen so far it would have to be Danny Glozier, he wears these trainers on a match-day that I don't even think are in existence anymore, he has the only pair around!

As the season nears it's end, is there any performance you're particularly proud of at Concord?

Obviously both games against Mansfield were special for the club and also for me playing in the FA Cup for the first time! Also I'd have to say Basingstoke away, we drew 0-0 on the day and I made 4/5 really good saves in the first half.  Then we went down to ten men towards the end of that half, and I was expecting a busy second half, but the team dug deep and I didn't have much to do!

You played against Barcelona for Arsenal in the Nextgen Champions League.  How good were Barca, and how was the experience?  

Yeah Barca were a very good side, and the crowd were very hostile, but I think on the day we could have won the game, but it wasn't to be.

Was their any players in the Arsenal side, who could be stars of the future, apart from yourself!!

I think from the team that played Barca that day, seven players have already been involved in the 1st team for Arsenal this season, so that says a lot.

Just like that Peter Schmeichel save of 1999, I will always remember the save Josh made on that sunny afternoon at Concord Rangers.  That's what football is all about, memories which last a lifetime.

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