Goalkeepers who end up on the score sheet are often regarded as glitches or abnormalities in the matrix of football nature – and they are, in a way. There’s something delightfully depraved about goalkeepers scoring goals. It’s like Cruella DeVille starting an animal shelter for obviously nefarious purposes. You know it’s not as it should be, but you can’t help but grudgingly admire what just took place.
Why would you do this?
I admit to taking inspiration from the Twitter account Goal-scoring GK, who regularly sees his goalies end up on the scoresheet. I intended to break Rogério Ceni’s record of 131 goals in all competitions, but obviously with an additional twist. The addition makes sense, in a warped and twisted way. While it is not uncommon for a goalkeeper to score from open play, these goals are rare in a firmament when overwhelmingly most goalies’ goals in history have been scored via penalty kicks and free kicks. So I set out to break the record by sending my keeper forward for corners to see him score from open play. I did not relish a challenge that merely constituted clicking continue until my goalie had racked up enough penalty and free-kick goals, so this twist was more than welcome.
Where did you end up?
I initially figured I would set this challenge in South America. You know the drill, gruelling seasons but a lot of games too, so plenty of opportunities for a goalkeeper to bag a few goals. On the other hand, most South American leagues have a decent standard of goalkeeping, which means I would require the services of an extraordinarily talented goalkeeper to make a difference.
Combine this epiphany with the fact that I just came off the back of a two-decade tenure with Junior FC in Colombia and you can understand my reasoning to look elsewhere. I decided to go to a league with a lower standard, where sheer physical size might be enough to bag a few cheeky corner goals without having to meet all those other pesky criteria involved in getting a player to slot home a corner successfully.
I ended up in the Indian I-League, not to be confused with the Indian Super League, where all the high-profile foreigners are or were active. Chennai City FC was to be my port of call for the next few seasons or however long it would take me to shatter Ceni’s record.
Although I gave some thought to playing in a league with a more minor reputation and less media attention, I did not choose India in particular. I also focused on obtaining work in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Latvia among other places. It just so happened that India and Chennai City became the first places that gave me a chance.
Who is this illustrious Royen Roy?
When I signed with Chennai City, I couldn’t believe my good luck when I discovered that my team already had a goalkeeper who was a respectable height. The unbelievable height of Royen Roy was determined to be one meter and ninety-five centimetres. He started out with the U19 squad because of his age, but I quickly moved him up when I realized he could be a threat to score goals from set pieces. Even though he wasn’t very skilled at taking free kicks or penalties, it was okay for him to do so because his competition between the sticks wasn’t any good.
For reference, the apathetic flapping performed by the opposing goalie was commonplace for most goalies in the league. The main challenge lay in the precision of a kick. If it ended between the sticks, it was often a goal.
So Rojen Roy started on a five-year journey that ended with him breaking Rogério Céni’s illustrious record in a breathtaking tempo, averaging a goals-to-games ratio that would make many strikers salivate. Why is Rojen Roy such a legendary player? Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present you with my first piece of evidence.
He averaged 0.67 goals pro game. As a goalkeeper. Let that sink in.
In fact, on two occasions he finished as the top goalscorer for a competition he was involved in. Granted, injuries played a major role in both instances but in both instances he recorded impressive goalscoring streaks. In the league, given the low level of goalkeeping on display, he was especially prolific in some matches.
On two occasions, Roy recorded a hattrick. The one above was, in my eyes, his most impressive feat. A penalty, a free-kick and a header from a corner, no other goalscorers in between, all inside of one half as well. And to cap off an already impressive performance, he adds another free-kick to his tally. Sreenidi went down like a concrete brick in a swimming pool that season, so they were not representative of the usual level of resistance we faced, but it is still an impressive feat to bag four goals in a single official game.
How did he do it?
By far the easiest source of scored goals for Rojen Roy; the penalties. My Chennai City side was quickly transformed into the dominant force in the I-League and that meant we got our fair share of penalties. I reckon Roy converted about 70% of those over the course of his career at Chennai. Again, if the effort was between the posts and somewhat off to a corner, it was usually a goal. Most misses were not saved by the opposing goalie, but efforts where the shot missed the target.
Roy converted his fair share of the free kicks we were awarded. I had him set up as the primary free-kick taker, even though he was not very good at it. I did tweak his training regime to focus on set pieces and towards the end of his tenure, he was markedly improving his free-kick tally.
Initially, I feared I would concede a lot of goals from this gambit; a ball striking the wall, causing long shots to fly in and all that. No such thing ever happened; another fear alleviated.
By far the most challenging feat was getting Rojen Roy to score from corners. Despite his rather impressive size, this proved harder than I initially imagined. I started out with my regular short corners, but as soon as the corner was taken, Roy was sprinting back to his own penalty area, instead of waiting for the cross to come in. Near-post, back-post, it made no difference. Setting him to attack the ball did not improve matters at all.
Our next effort was a near-post delivery with Roy attacking the ball. It turns out that most goalies have the spatial awareness of a blind goldfish. He might have been tall and strong, but his timing and movement were so ludicrously bad that he never scored from this gambit.
Ultimately, we achieved success with a near-post delivery and Roy was just standing there. Essentially, we just lumped the ball onto his head and hoped for the best. Which, surprisingly enough, worked out plenty of times.
As the adage goes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. Well, this gambit backfired a fair few times as well. All of these times resulted in a goal of the season for the opposition. Behold.
This happened on average twice a season. Still, it was fun.