UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year
Friday, 22 August 2008
Petr Čech has been named as the 2008 UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year ahead of Manuel Almunia, Manuel Neuer, Pepe Reina and Edwin van der Sar.
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Petr Čech (Chelsea FC)
Čech overcame yet another head injury to help Chelsea mount their late surge last term. The Czech international had to have 50 stitches in his face following a collision with Tal Ben Haim during training in April, contributing to the 22 games he missed throughout the campaign due to injuries. He was back for the season finale, however, as Chelsea pushed Manchester United FC all the way in the Premier League and reached the UEFA Champions League final for the first time. Avram Grant's side fell just short – Čech seldom did.
Manuel Almunia (Arsenal FC)
Almunia was not even Arsenal's No1 at the start of the season but injuries to Jens Lehmann gave him a run in the starting lineup – and how he took it. The Pamplona-born goalkeeper endeared himself to the Gunners' supporters in December when he denied Robbie Keane from the penalty spot to earn Arsenal a derby victory over Tottenham Hotspur FC, and kept five clean sheets in eight UEFA Champions league appearances.
Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04)
Ever-present as Schalke finished third in the Bundesliga, Neuer was central to his hometown club's success. He conceded an average of less than a goal per game in the German top flight, but it was in the UEFA Champions League that the youngster really came to the fore. In the first knockout round FC Porto found Neuer in fantastic form, pulling off save after save to force a penalty shoot-out in which he denied Bruno Alves and Lisandro López to carry Schalke through to the last eight.
Pepe Reina (Liverpool FC)
Liverpool's recent European success has been based on defence but after a poor start to their campaign they went on the attack – and it was Reina who was left to hold the fort. In 12 games before their semi-final elimination they struck 29 goals, but Reina's penchant for making key saves at crucial moments was just as important. In February the Spanish international became the quickest goalkeeper in Liverpool history to keep 50 clean sheets.
Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United FC)
United's 2007/08 campaign was bookmarked by two penalty shoot-outs against Chelsea FC. On 5 August 2007, Van der Sar saved all three of the Blues' spot-kicks to earn the FA Community Shield and then, nine and a half months later he denied Nicolas Anelka as United were crowned European champions for the third time. Despite a niggling groin injury, the Dutch international was also pivotal as his side retained the Premier League title.