JOHANNESBURG - England are struggling to
develop world class goalkeepers due to the number of foreign
players between the posts at the leading Premier League clubs,
former Germany international Oliver Kahn said on Friday.
England and Germany, who clash in the World Cup second round
on Sunday, have produced many of Europe's finest keepers down
the years but Kahn said the English production line had ground
to a halt while Germany still had many promising youngsters.
"England had a great tradition of goalkeepers
like Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence, David Seaman and, going
further back, Gordon Banks," said the 41-year-old Kahn, who
played 86 times for his country between 1994 and 2006.
"Now in England you have a situation where many foreign
goalkeepers are playing for the top clubs like Manchester
United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
"That makes it very difficult for them to develop an English
goalkeeper who will develop into a No.1 world class keeper," he
told a news conference.
England coach Fabio Capello had a difficult call to make
before the World Cup about who his first choice would be out of
David James, 40 in August, Robert Green, 30, or Joe Hart, 23.
He opted for Green in the opening match against the United
States but the goalkeeper's howler, allowing a speculative shot
from Clint Dempsey to squirm through his hands and roll
agonisingly over the line, saw the jersey given to James.
Germany coach Joachim Low chose 24-year-old Manuel Neuer as
his first choice ahead of the older Tim Wiese, 28, and
Hans-Jorg Butt, 36, after Rene Adler, 25, suffered a rib injury
before the tournament and had to pull out of the squad.
Although Neuer only has eight caps and is inexperienced at
this level, Kahn believes he is the right man for the job and
that Germany are still able to nurture top goalkeepers.
Neuer is at Schalke 04 but Kahn hinted he would eventually
play for the country's biggest club, Bayern Munich, who have
been chasing him for the last 12 months.
"In Germany it is different (from England). Bayern Munich,
for example, has a policy that Germany's No.1 goalkeeper needs
to be in their team and there are many German goalkeepers
playing in the Bundesliga.
"Neuer is still a very young goalkeeper. He's had many
positive experiences and few negative ones to look back on. He
became a European champion with the Under-21s and is full of
self-confidence. He sees himself positively and as a winner."
As far as Sunday's match is concerned, Kahn was sitting
firmly on the fence in terms of predictions, saying: "England v
Germany? It's a traditional, classic duel, a battle.
"England are a very experienced side with many top stars
from the Premier League. Germany are a young inexperienced team,
but they do play a lovely game of passing football, which is
actually not quite typical of German football.
"As to the result, we will have to wait and see."
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