On Tuesday we announced the manager for Tottenham Hotspur's Best XI squad. Now it's time to move on to the actual players. We'll start at the back. Tottenham Hotspur are not known for their defensive prowess and as a result their goalkeepers may not have the greatest reputation. However, over the years Tottenham have blessed with some great keepers.
None of the keepers on this list approach the greatness of Ted Ditchburn, Bill Brown, Pat Jennings or Ray Clemence, but they were all solid keepers in their own right. Really each of these 4 keepers represents a very distinct period of Tottenham football within this decade.
I had a pretty good idea going into the manager race who the winner would be, but for this one I have absolutely no idea. None of these 4 keepers consistently covered themselves in glory. All of them had moments of sheer brilliance and moments of WTF! This is going to be interesting!
Let's have a look at the candidates:Neil Sullivan: Some of you might not remember Sullivan. The Scottish keeper joined Spurs from Wimbeldon in 2000 and remained with the club until 2003. His career at Wimbeldon was a good one. He was named to the 1996-1997 PFA Team of the Year, but Sullivan was, at the time, perhaps most known for being the keeper upon whom David Beckham scored this goal. During his time at Spurs he made 81 appearances. He was named Spurs' Club Player of the Year for the calendar year of 2001. During his two season as Spurs' Number 1 the club finished 12th and 9th and had a runner up finish in the League Cup. Sullivan was often brilliant, but he, like most Tottenham keepers, was not helped by Tottenham's shoddy defending. In 2003 he was sold to Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. At the age of 41 Sullivan still plays for Doncaster Rovers.
Kasey Keller: The American Keeper took the top goalkeeping position from Sullivan to begin the 2002-2003 season and played every minute of that season and the next. Keller made 99 career appearances for Spurs in three seasons with the club before being sold to Borussia Mönchengladbach. The club experienced minimal success during this period, earning only 10th and 14th place in the league. Most American soccer fans are aware of Keller's deficiencies. He was prone to moments of madness (sound familiar) like when he brought down Robert Pires in the box at Highbury to allow Thierry Henry to tie the game at 1-1 in 2002, but was also an excellent shot stopper As with Sullivan, Keller suffered from playing behind a suspect backline.
Paul Robinson: The former England Number 1 made 175 appearances in four seasons and was the keeper Martin Jol depended on during the beginnings of the club's renaissance. At the time Robinson joined Spurs from Leeds United hadn't finished higher than 9th in the league since 1996. Robinson helped propel Tottenham to back-to-back fifth place finishes and a League Cup. Not only was Robinson a good keeper, but the man scored goals! Sadly during the 2007-2008 season, in which Spurs won the league cup, Robinson's form began to dip following his famous gaffe in the England vs. Croatia game. He was benched at points in that season in favor of Readek Cerny and at the end of the season was sold. Robinson was a fan favorite, due in large part to the great relationship he cultivated with his fans. Particularly memorable was Robbo leading the chants of Spurs fans against Slavia Prague (in Prague no less).
Heurelho Gomes: Opinions on Gomes seem to be souring following the errors against Real Madrid (here), Blackpool, and a few others. However, it was Gomes who was in Goal as Spurs finished fourth in the Premier League in 2009-2010 and their 5th place finish this year. Also, Spurs have conceded less goals in Gomes three years as a starter than in any other 3-year period since the inception of the Premier League. Let's not forget that at the end of last season Gomes was widely regarded as one of the top keepers in the league, due largely to saves like this, this, and these. The Brazilian keeper's future with the club is currently in doubt, but one thing is for certain. There was rarely a dull moment with him in goal.