For a very long time it was seen as the position for ‘the kid that is useless outfield’ that was put in goal. Although that may, generally, still be the case I think that times are changing and children are now wanting to play in goal rather than it be forced upon them.
What is the reason for the rise?
The rise of Youtube, Manuel Neuer and goalkeeper companies ability to adapt to a changing market are a few of the reasons I think that this change is occurring.
The first and main reason is the rise of prominence of keepers such as Manuel Neuer and David De Gea. Neuer especially has created a whole new position, with constant tackles outside the box that mean that nowadays goalkeeping is not all about standing on your line and saving the ball.
The need to move across most areas of the pitch efficiently means that playing the position requires more thinking therefore challenging the mind and ultimately making it more interesting. The generic picture of a poor kid standing around on a cold and wet Sunday morning inside his area is no more. It is now of someone taking big risks to challenge an opponent as a defender may. Everyone wants to do a ‘Neuer’.
The rise of social media
Even though the keepers have changed the position, without the mass coverage and constant highlight reels through Youtube, TV and Instagram the position would not be getting the same exposure it now does. Highlight reels watched by millions now consist of Neuer at the World Cup tackling someone near the half way line or David De Gea’s save against a Juan Mata freekick.
These are moments that children now want to recreate and to do so they go in goal. They are only capable of seeing them by watching these moments online. Most goalkeeper accounts that simply show pictures or 6 second highlight videos have hundreds of thousands of followers and videos that are several minutes long of the ‘worlds best saves’ have millions of views.
Finally, much like boots have now become pieces of artwork, rather than a standard tool needed to kick a football, gloves have followed suit with a wide range of patterns and designs available online and in all retailers. The availability to actually create your own glove allows for a greater personalisation.
To many, keepers are still seen as a rare breed of mad players that were not good enough to play outfield, but the way football has evolved it means that now keepers are having to be just as good with their feet as they are their hands. The rise of the internet and social media has meant that the players revolutionising the position now have fantastic exposure.