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09.10.2008 10:55

Great year between the sticks

Berta Brau

Having three first team goalkeepers is a luxury Barça have not enjoyed in their recent history. The only seasons when this has happened were those of 1981/82 and 1997/98.

Barça have three regular first team keepers in their squad this season, which is a highly unusual circumstance for the club. Pinto was signed after his six-month loan period expired, having originally come to the club as cover for the injured Jorquera. In the past, it has been far more common practice for Barça to just have two first team keepers and draw upon the reserve team whenever any additional stoppers were required.

Two seasons with three keepers

URRUTICOECHEA.JPGIn the last thirty years, there have only been two seasons in which Barça have had three official goalkeepers. The first was 1981/82, when Lorenzo Amador, Pedro María Artola and Francisco Javier González Urruticoechea, known as ‘Urruti’, were all in the squad. Artola played 31 League games, 5 in the Cup Winners Cup and 2 in the Copa del Rey. Urruti, meanwhile, played 4 League games and 3 in the Cup Winners Cup, while Amador did not make any official appearances but did don the gloves in 7 friendlies.

VITOR_BAIA.JPGThe second time it happened was in 1997/98, when Louis van Gaal had all of Vítor Baía, Ruud Hesp and Carles Busquets under his orders. Hesp played most of the games, 36 in the League and all but one of the Champions League fixtures.

Two keepers and one from the reserves

The reason Barça have not required more keepers has been because they usually only need two and use a reserve team goalkeeper from time to time, perhaps eventually promoting that reserve to the first team. That is what happened, for instance, with Víctor Valdés.

Valdés, from third to first choice

Van Gaal called upon Valdés when he was with Barça B, and he gradually started playing more of a role in first team activity, as an understudy to Roberto Bonano and Robert Enke. But Valdés impressed from an early day and Van Gaal started drawing upon his services more and more and eventually made him his first choice between the sticks. Valdés made his debut in the seventh league game of the season, but Bonano remained the usual keeper until game 21, when Valdés was picked by Van Gaal to see out the rest of the season. German goalkeeper Robert Enke only played one League game, two in the Champions League and one in the Copa del Rey.
Great year between the sticks
Jorquera makes first team
Albert Jorquera joined the first team in 2003/04, after a year in Division 2B with the reserves team. That season he was the third choice keeper behind Víctor Valdés and Rüstü Recber. Jorquera trained with the first team, but was still officially a reserve team player. He appeared in 7 league games, plus 13 in the cup and one in the Champions League.

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