Dave Beasant on why Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois bucks trend and can be world's best

Dave Beasant Vauxhall football

Ex-Chelsea and England goalkeeper Dave Beasant explains to HITC Sport why Stamford Bridge's current last line of defence is destined for the top.

Dave Beasant Vauxhall football

English football is demanding, of that there is no doubt, with the high intensity and physical nature of the Premier League often catching newcomers unawares.

One position in particular that can be notoriously difficult to fill for those drafted in from foreign fields is between the sticks, with continental goalkeepers unaccustomed to the bumps and bruises that will inevitably come their way.

Manchester United discovered that the hard way when searching for a suitable successor to Peter Schmeichel, with a number of Taibi-esque mistakes made before finally landing Edwin van Sar – who had already been in England for four years with Fulham.

Arsenal have also struggled to replace David Seaman, with Jens Lehmann proving himself to be worthy of such a role at times and wildly eccentric at others.

Chelsea, though, appear to have got the art of identifying top shot-stopping talent down to a tee, with a seamless transition made from the ever-reliable Petr Cech to the hugely promising Thibaut Courtois.

Dave Beasant Vauxhall football 3

After a decade of loyal service from the former, the latter has returned from three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid as a ready-made replacement.

Still only 23 years of age, Courtois’ first season in England has delivered title success and League Cup glory – with 38 appearances made across all competitions.

Many already consider him to be in the elite group of goalkeepers at the top of the global game – alongside the Manuel Neuers and Gianluigi Buffons of this world – and former Chelsea man Dave Beasant is among those that believe the languid Belgian can go on to become the world’s best in his own right after bucking a trend which suggests new number ones often require a settling in period.

Beasant - who was speaking on behalf of Vauxhall, the England team sponsor - told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “He’s got the chance to be the world’s best goalkeeper. He’s still relatively young, it’s his first season in the Premier League.

“I think it is the toughest league in the world for goalkeepers, it’s a little bit more physical. We have seen with David de Gea, when he came into this country, how he struggled physically. He’s adapted to those demands, expecting to get a bit of contact when he goes for a ball in the air. We saw with Victor Valdes at the weekend, coming for a cross and maybe looking for a player or expecting one to come in, and didn’t deal with it.

“He’s (Courtois) come into this country, he’s six foot five, he commands his area, deals with crosses but would be honest enough to tell you that he’s still learning the game. But he has the potential to be the best goalkeeper in the world.”

The scary thing is that Courtois still has so many years ahead of him.

He is a year younger than Manchester United’s De Gea, five younger than Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris and six years behind Bayern Munich’s World Cup-winner Neuer.

Time is very much on his side, with it possible that he could have another 30 years in the game if he chooses to follow Beasant’s lead.

The ex-England international, who has occupied a spot on the bench for League Two side Stevenage this year at the age of 56, said: “Comparing him to me, yeah.

“He’s been brought back at the right time. I think if he had been left away from Chelsea, his mindset might have to been to leave the club, but they’ve brought him back at the right time and he’s had a fantastic season, You also know when Petr Cech has come in what you are going to get from him, but I think Mourinho has handled the situation really well.”

It is difficult to see how Courtois can kick on from here – given that the last two seasons have delivered La Liga and Premier League crowns, along with domestic cup success and a Champions League final appearance and showing at the World Cup.

He is, however, an ambitious and humble young man and will be fully aware that it is when you start to think that you have made it and are destined for the top that you actually start to see your performances dip and find yourself on a slippery slope that leads in a different, less favourable, direction.

Dave Beasant was visiting Gordon Saunders Goalkeeping as part of the Vauxhall Football Youth Programme in partnership with Tustain Motors. For more news, views and competitions go to www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk

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