FIFA World Cup Goalkeeper Case Study

Author: Conor Brennan – UEFA GK Licence, Youth Academy GK Coach (Rangers Football Club, Scotland)

As the Argentina national team was crowned World Cup Champions in 2022, never before has the role of the goalkeeper been discussed in greater detail.

From high-pressured penalty kicks, starting or building the play from the back, organising the defensive situations & generally being the ‘eyes of the team’ from behind, not only highlights the importance of such a position but stresses the developmental processes required by the specialist goalkeeper coaches.

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Statistical Analysis of World Cup GKs

Based on the laser focus approach of the goalkeeper, ISSPF are pleased to further highlight the goalkeeper through this unique and particular case study.

I decided to conduct this case study or analysis into the selection process of different countries to either trust ‘youth’ goalkeepers or select ‘experienced’ goalkeepers to perform on the world stage. This article may also provide insight into what the future game may look like and how this can be further influenced.

At the club level, it is apparent with some great examples that young goalkeepers when given the chance, perform well at the top level in UEFA Champions League, Europa League and recently Europa Conference League.

The data collected from the goalkeepers at the 2022 Qatar World Cup shows the trend is slightly lagging behind on the International scene when compared with domestic or European football competition.

The data shows that 66.6% of goalkeepers selected for the World Cup had less than 25 caps, and 20.2% of goalkeepers selected for the World Cup had over 50 caps, this highlights that managers are happy to have a balance with an experienced goalkeeper potentially playing, but also rely on youth if necessary.

It must be understood that these goalkeepers are prepared and trained at their current clubs, so the lead-up to the 2022 Qatar World Cup was preparing the goalkeeper to perform once they edge closer to match days through a range of different training methods.

World Cup 2022 Goalkeeper Case Study Blog 2
Figure 1. Set play tactical discussion from Andy Quy (GK Coaching Science Course)

Experienced v Inexperienced GKs

Although 39% of goalkeepers that played in the World Cup have less than 25 caps is promising, 36.5% of goalkeepers that played in the World Cup had more than 50 caps, which is highlighted when looking at the four teams reaching the semi-final stages.

France, Morocco, Argentina and Croatia all compete with very experienced goalkeepers, which points towards a possible key indicator to achieving success in tournaments.

Each goalkeeper carrying out big saves at crucial moments throughout the group stages is also a key factor in their country’s progressing to perform in these major tournaments.

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Furthermore, 41.4% (99) of goalkeepers selected for the World Cup managed to play at some stage in the tournament, Brazil was the only country to utilise every goalkeeper in their squad, which shows the depth and quality within their group. Iran, Tunisia and Switzerland decided to name four goalkeepers in their squads, rather than using that space for an extra outfield player.

This could be the character these individuals brought to the group to help create a positive environment, or possibly enforce the standard and quality of training sessions during recovery days.  

African teams that played in the World Cup selected younger goalkeepers than any other continent, with an average age of 27.5yrs. This raises the question are they preparing their goalkeepers earlier than any other continent? And if so, how?

Is there a good foundation with Talent ID, and training methods unique enough to challenge bigger continents such as Europe and Asia: Europe is currently the dominant force with thirteen teams qualifying for the World Cup, more than double any other continent.

The average age of goalkeepers from Europe selected for the World Cup was 29.2yrs old, again, over thirteen years of professional football to hone their skills and develop further.

Ghana and Cameroon are two countries that opted to select youth over experience. The average age of both goalkeeping groups was 23 (Ghana) and 24.6 (Cameroon). Although Cameroon goalkeepers Onana and Epassy are 26 and 29yrs old respectively, they played in the three games.

The fact that the youngest goalkeeper selected for the World Cup was 19 years old (Ngapandouetnbu), this exposure can only benefit him for further major tournaments.

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Young Goalkeepers at the World Cup

Portuguese goalkeeper Costa was the youngest goalkeeper to play in this year’s World Cup aged just 23 but played in each of the five games. This is a great pathway going forward and shows an exciting journey ahead for this young GK, and will be of great interest to watch how Portugal performs at major tournaments in the near future and if he can continue his development.

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Case Study: Martinez (Argentina GK)

In winning the World Cup with Argentina, the charismatic Martinez at the age of 30yrs old highlights how much experience is vital to achieve success at a major tournament.

An interesting career pathway which saw him have to deal with bumps in the road, whilst evolution through the lower leagues of the game having moved away from home at a young age (e.g. loan period at Reading only three years ago), playing in the English Championship and only making his international debut in 2021 aged 28 yrs old.

What makes this a remarkable story is the fact that he is experienced with age, however not hugely experienced with club or country from number of appearances.

Moving deeper into the analysis, the author of this article has suggested that “the average age of goalkeepers performing on elite stages will decrease in the next 5-10 years due to the high demands of the goalkeeper’s role within the team… what it may look like in the future and maximising potential earlier through different resources and at club and country.

The level and expectation of goalkeeping will continue to rise with game time, international caps and current form, all playing a big part on who gets to showcase their talent on the big stage.”

How YOU Can Develop The Next Generation of Goalkeepers

The bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Faculty members are a way of further exposing sport science students, coaching individuals working within the game & other soccer science & performance coaching enthusiasts with a thirst to develop further.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF University endorsed, quality assured & accredited Professional Masters Certificate in Goalkeeping Coaching Science online course. This course has been described as one of the best online courses for further developing & adding to football coaching qualifications, where you will be exposed to goalkeeping specific football coaching research and practical examples used within the game by high level professionals. 

What Skills Will I Improve With This Course?

  • This course discusses the most efficient goalkeeper coaching methods and performance, goalkeeper coaching science principles and detailed insights into how to program them within a team sport environment.
  • Provides you with increased evidence & knowledge to understand key physical training aspects, goalkeeper coaching science and a performance training methodology processes.
  • Help you to understand the key performance elements and interventions used to organise a training development model in line with physical development of players.
  • Gives you more information in order to prepare, perform & recover your goalkeepers or team sport athletes from both a training and match-play or competitive scenario.
  • Allows practitioners and coaches to benefit themselves and their goalkeepers even further by having a greater depth of knowledge in this key football coaching area.
  • Learn from industry experts in the area of goalkeeping performance coaching, football science and sport methodology.


In this course you will learn the following key areas of Goalkeeper Development:

  1. The role of the goalkeeper coach
  2. Specific competitive demands of the modern GK
  3. Modern goalkeeper training
    Soccer-specific movement training
  4. Philosophical & technical insights into GK training
  5. Dietary analysis of GK: Premier League case study
  6. GK specific game and training model
  7. Goalkeeper coaching analysis
  8. Managing pressure
  9. Skill acquisition
Goalkeeper Diving

Why Is This Course Important?

  • The Professional Masters Certificate in Goalkeeper Coaching Science provides the latest training methods, tactics and strategies for helping coaches prepare, train and develop goalkeepers.
  • Understanding the key components of what drives coaches, players, & athletes to succeed is of paramount importance.
  • Provides most efficient training methods and detailed insights into developing goalkeeper  fitness alongside tactical strategies & developing a training methodology.
  • Gain a better understanding how to maximise goalkeeper development & preparation of players in a more efficient & contemporary game model approach.
  • Learn how to balance key training elements from a technical, tactical & physical preparation in order to attain peak performance for goalkeepers.
  • Practitioners & coaches can only benefit themselves & their players further by a more in-depth knowledge of physical training & soccer methodology.

Who Is This Course For?

  • The Professional Masters Certificate in Goalkeeper Coaching Science provides the latest training methods and strategies for helping coaches prepare, train and develop their goalkeepers.
  • The Professional Masters Certificate in Goalkeeper Coaching Science online course gives you the specific training principles, tactics and techniques that are applied across the elite level of the game
  • You will develop a strong understanding of the role of the goalkeeper coach, whilst developing your knowledge of the conditioning, nutrition, psychology & physiology of the elite goalkeeper.

What Does This Course Cover?

Outline of the Professional Masters Certificate in Goalkeeper Coaching Science (Senior Pro Level) course:


Part 1 – Training Environment

  • The role of the GK Coach  Fraser Stewart (Scottish Football Association, Kilmarnock FC)
  • The specific competitive demands of the modern Goalkeeper Eduardo Cachulo (SL Benfica, Portugal)
  • Modern Soccer Goalkeeper Training – An introduction to contemporary training Dr. Fabian Otte (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany)
  • Soccer-specific movement preparation: Improving efficiency Aleksa Boskovic (Serbia)
  • Philosophical and Technical Insights to Goalkeeper Training Dean Santangelo (Grasshopper Club Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Dietary Analysis of a GK – Elite EPL Player Case Study Dr. Liam Anderson (England)
  • Developing a GK-specific soccer game and training model Eduardo Cachulo (SL Benfica, Portugal)
  • Managing pressure: Emotion, Anxiety & Coping in elite soccer – Part B Jeff Richardson (Arsenal FC, Ireland FA)
  • Skill Acquisition in Goalkeeping: Developing technical proficiency for situational effectiveness Sascha Marth (Austria FA)


Part 2 – Game Environment          

  • Goalkeeper Decision Making and Anticipation – Game references Jyri Niemenen (New York Red Bulls, MLS, USA)
  • Demands & considerations of an elite GK coach: Case study Lee Baxter (South African FA)
  • Individual Development of GK within team environment Ivan Kovčić (Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia)
  • Ready to Perform? An Investigation into Modern Soccer Goalkeeper Warm-Ups Dr. Fabian Otte (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany)
  • Set Plays – Goalkeeper Demands Andy Quy (Charlotte FC, MLS, USA)
  • Resilience in soccer: Dealing with adversity Dr. Tanja Ecken (DSC Arminia Bielefeld, Germany)
  • A Top Down Process in Goalkeeper Analysis Ivan Kovčić (Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia)
  • Defending Set Plays Andy Quy (Charlotte FC, MLS, USA)
  • Developing a GK-Specific Performance Philosophy Matt Newton (Kitman Labs)

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