90min

Goalkeepers Who Started Out as Outfield Players

Ali Rampling
Kelleher telling Klopp to stick him up front next week...
Kelleher telling Klopp to stick him up front next week... / Pool/Getty Images
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Very few things in life can bring as much joy as watching a goalkeeper lumber up the pitch for a corner during the dying stages of the game with their team in desperate search of an equaliser.

The awkwardness of the person in gloves attempting to jostle for a header, and the hope and possibility that maybe, just maybe they could be responsible for delivering the dramatic, romantic, Hollywood ending. And then the corner fails to beat the first man and the goalkeeper has to scarper back to where they belong.

But for some goalkeepers, stretching their legs further up the field comes more naturally than others, with a selection of stoppers spending their youth as outfield players.

Let's take a look at those goalkeepers.


1. Caoimhin Kelleher

Kelleher started life as a centre forward
Kelleher started life as a centre forward / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

The Liverpool stopper shone on his Champions League debut, pulling off a selection of fine saves - but it was his ability with the ball at his feet that Jurgen Klopp cited as the reason Kelleher had been preferred to Adrian.

This ball playing skill is unsurprising given the 22-year-old was an outfield player for much of his youth.

Kelleher started out a centre forward, playing at county level as a striker before switching scoring goals for keeping them out halfway through a season at Under 14 level after a request from his father. Dad's know best.

2. Adrian

Adrian started life as a striker
Adrian started life as a striker / DeFodi Images/Getty Images

If an individual is to be back a backup goalkeeper to Alisson at Liverpool, it has now become compulsory that they spent part of their youth playing outfield. Why do you think Andy Lonergan was really released?

Adrian played as a striker for local Spanish side CD Altair until the age of 10. He temporarily stepped in between the sticks as a 'stop-gap' when his team didn't have a goalkeeper. Said stop-gap has lasted 23 years.

Within a year of playing in goal, Adrian was scouted by Betis.

3. Joe Hart

Hart doubled up as a goalkeeper and outfield player in his youth
Hart doubled up as a goalkeeper and outfield player in his youth / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

If you've seen him in the Head and Shoulders adverts or playing cricket at the Tottenham training ground, you'll already be aware the Joe Hart is a man of many talents.

Hart was first scouted for his local team Shrewsbury as a 10-year-old, but opted to continue playing Sunday league instead. He played outfield for his school and Sunday sides, and in goal for his county before donning the gloves permanently when he joined Shrewsbury as a 14-year-old. He had made the Shrews match day squad before his 16th birthday.

Imagine spending a chunk of your teenage years playing outfield up and down the pitches of Shropshire and still not being deemed to have good enough feet by Pep Guardiola.

4. David De Gea

De Gea played outfield for his school until the age of 14
De Gea played outfield for his school until the age of 14 / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The Manchester United number one has spent a large portion of his career being regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the world - but he started out further up the field.

His father Jose was a goalkeeper for Getafe, and after a year of playing outfield for his club side La Escuela De Futbol Atletico Casarrubuelos - who were affiliated with Atletico Madrid - De Gea had established that his favoured position was also between the sticks by the age of seven.

However, De Gea continued to play as a striker for his school team until the age of 14, with his former teacher citing the fact he frequently played outfield in futbol sala as the reason for his strong ball playing ability.

5. Thibaut Courtois

Courtois started out as a left back
Courtois started out as a left back / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois has guarded the goal for four separate league title winning sides - but it was not the first position he took up when he kicked off his footballing career.

Courtois started out as a left back for local side Bilzen V.V, and he was scouted for Genk while playing at fullback.

The Belgium number one first tried his hand in goal during a tournament at under nines level. He impressed, but continued to regularly play outfield until the age of 12 for fear of being restricted to just one position.

6. Jose Manuel Pinto

Pinto was originally a defensive midfielder
Pinto was originally a defensive midfielder / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The former Barcelona number two scooped seven major trophies during his time in Catalonia while playing second fiddle to Victor Valdes - but he could have been playing second fiddle to Sergio Busquets instead had things panned out a little differently.

Pinto started out as a defensive midfielder before joining the Betis youth system in his teens.

His skills are not just limited to goalkeeping and shielding the back four; Pinto now works as a hip hop record producer and musician - a venture he entered into during his playing days.

7. Jorge Campos

Campos' garms were as legendary as his goalkeeping ability
Campos' garms were as legendary as his goalkeeping ability / Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Footballers like Jorge Campos don't come along very often. Renowned for his self-designed multicoloured goalkeeper tops and tendency to get moved up front whenever his side were trailing, the 5ft 9in stopper was eccentric to say the least.

But Campos getting thrown up top was no David James, Stuart Pearce, Manchester City versus Middlesbrough absurdity. It was a genuine, intelligent tactic.

The Mexico centurion played as a striker throughout his teenage years before transitioning to a goalkeeper. However, when he found himself behind Adolfo Rios in the pecking order at Pumas as a 22-year-old, Campos asked to be deployed as a striker in order to get more minutes. He scored 14 goals in his first season up front!

Campos eventually won the number one spot but would still regularly be deployed as a striker whenever his side were chasing a game. He ended his career with 46 career goals. Imagine if Stuart Pearce had had Campos at his disposal. Manchester City wouldn't have needed Sheikh Mansour's millions.


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