Newcastle’s head of goalkeeping, Simon Smith, has done an extensive interview for nufc.co.uk.
Smith is a former Newcastle United goalkeeper himself having come through the Academy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He never made an appearance for Newcastle but did play over 500 times for Gateshead.
The 57-year-old replaced Andy Woodman, Freddie Woodman’s father, as Newcastle’s head goalkeeping coach in 2016 after rejoining the club as part of Steve McClaren’s staff a year earlier. He had previously been a goalkeeping coach at Newcastle under both Ruud Gullit and Sir Bobby Robson.
During part of Smith’s interview, he touches on Newcastle’s current group of goalkeepers in Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, and Rob Elliot.
Martin Dubravka– flying high as a Magpie
He had some interesting comments about Martin Dubravka’s first week of training after joining on loan from Sparta Prague in January of 2018.
This is what Smith had to say about Martin when asked about the difficulties goalkeepers face when coming to the Premier League:
“Martin, for me, is a classic example. He’s been scouted by the scouting department, Rafa’s watched him, I’ve watched him. Those technical bits of goalkeeping look fine.
“He comes to training, and in the first week, the ball is whizzing past him – we’re doing shooting, and the ball is whizzing past him for fun. The manager says to me, ‘what do you think?’ ‘Well, he hasn’t saved anything yet’.
“Another week goes past, and he starts to save the ball, because he’s got the technical ability and is realizing maybe he needs to stand an inch, foot or yard further back to be able to make a save.
“He works it out for himself, and I hope that our practices helped to bring him up to speed. After two weeks, the manager played him against Manchester United.”
The rest is history as they say. Martin was outstanding in that debut and has started 61 straight Premier League games since. A couple of weeks ago, he agreed to a new six-year deal.
Martin too reflected on his first week at Newcastle as he talked about the noticeable difference in the quality of shots he faced:
“Everything was much faster, much quicker, the decisions, the shots were more powerful. In that moment I thought, ‘wow, that’s tough, but I need to get used to it, because this is my only chance to be here’.”
It didn’t take Dubravka too long to get used to a higher level of football. He was some find by the Newcastle scouting team and has grown into a top Premier League player.