Gomes, the wall of Watford

Brasil Observer - Jun 23 2016
BO_14.15 Option 1

(Leia em Português)


Brazilian goalkeeper ends the 2015/2016 season on the rise in England, talking exclusively to Brasil Observer


By Guilherme Reis

The best goalkeeper in English football is Heurelho Gomes from Brazil. This is not patriotism. According to WhoScored.com, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data, the player of modest Watford had the best performance of the position in 2015/2016 Premier League.

In the words of the WhoScored.com editor-in-chief, Martin Laurence, for his blog in The Guardian website: “While Watford’s season may have ended in a disappointing fashion, they secured their goal of survival with months to spare. No player contributed in a more significant way throughout the campaign than Gomes, who produced more saves than any other goalkeeper in the league (120), boasting the fourth best save success rate of those to make at least 20 appearances (71.6%)”.

The most impressive performance of Gomes in the season undoubtedly took place on 16 April. Watford was playing away against West Brom and winning by 1-0 when at the minute 67 the referee signalled a penalty for the home team. Saido Berahino shot and Gomes saved. Three minutes to go to the end of match, a new penalty. Saido Berahino shot again and Gomes, the wall of Watford, made a save that secured the win.

It was not just a victory. Gomes became the first goalkeeper in Premier League history to save two penalties in the same game twice. The Brazilian player did the same in 2010, playing for Tottenham. At the time, he saved two penalties shot by Darren Bent, from Sunderland.

Heurelho Gomes was born in Jao Pinheiro, in Brazil’s State of Minas Gerais, on 15 February 1981. Starting to play professionally for Cruzeiro in 2002, he wore the shirts of PSV (Netherlands), Tottenham (England) and Hoffenheim (Germany) before signing with Watford in 2014. He also made 11 appearances for the Brazilian national team between 2003 and 2011, winning the Confederations Cup in 2005 and 2009. His gallery of titles includes a Brazilian Championship (2003), a Brazil Cup (2003) and four Dutch championships (2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08).

Read below the exclusive interview Gomes gave to Brasil Observer.


How do you evaluate the season that has just finished? Watford reached the FA Cup semi-finals and ended the Premier League ranked 13th. Do you feel the team could have done more?

The season was very good and we exceeded expectations. A lot of people said we were contenders for relegation. Of course we wanted more, perhaps qualifying for the Europa League, because had been in the classification zone for a few rounds. We could have reached the FA Cup final too.


Personally, you end the season on the rise, being called the “king of penalties”. How do you feel making history in the Premier League? Do you do any special training for penalties?

It is very important for goalkeepers to be prepared for any situation. I never enter a game wanting to make history. I always think about helping my team. It was an important moment. I’m very calm when I face a penalty and this tranquillity helps me make saves, it is a moment of great concentration, a lot depends on how you are in the game.


I wanted you to talk about your adaptation in England. How to reconcile football life with a wife and children?

It was easy. I lived in the Netherlands four years, where there is a very high quality of life, but England and London have much more things to do. My family is completely adapted, my children. Here it’s easy because we train once a day, in the morning, then I am always with my family.


You’ve been here for a long time. Do you have contact with other Brazilians playing in England, such as William and Oscar?

We meet whenever we can, the boys from Chelsea, Sandro from Queens Park Rangers, and other Brazilians too. It’s very good. It means a lot and I think it makes us fill some lack of our friends who are in Brazil.


And off the field, what are your projects?

I don’t do many plans because I work a lot to make things happen now. But I have to start to prepare myself. This year I want to start a coaching course. I don’t know if I will be a coach, but I want to be prepared.


A great friend of mine who supports Cruzeiro asked: was that Cruzeiro squad of 2003 the best team you ever had?

I can say that, as a whole. PSV had a very good team too. When I arrived, in 2004/2005, we went to the semi-finals of the Champions League. It was a wonderful team. But Cruzeiro’s team of 2003 was complete in terms of achievements, we won everything we played: the Triple Crown in 2003. So I can say it was the best team I’ve played.


With so many years in European football, how do you evaluate Brazilian football? And the national team, how do you see the 7-1 loss and the chances of Brazilian football at the Olympics in Rio?

Technically there is no question the quality of Brazilian football, but in terms of organization we are far behind. I do not know what happens, but we do not prioritize the Brazilian fans. The fans get overlooked. Here the first thing they think is the fans. And the TV quotas help teams in financial terms during the season. Unfortunately in Brazil we do not have that yet, the quotas are divided according to the team. Here is more equal.

The national team is a special case; it was already running the risk because it is a period of transition. In my view it is a badly managed transition. Usually you do not change all players at once; you start taking one and another, and then put the younger ones. Unfortunately the 7-1 defeat happened, and nothing has been learnt given the last games.

Olympics are another case. We never won and I don’t know if we will win, the other teams are very good, but hopefully we will win the gold medal within the country. We have chances, but we are not favourites.

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