Neil Etheridge's Cardiff heroics expose Fulham's biggest mistake

Fulham's Italian manager Claudio Ranieri gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage in London on...

Fulham released Neil Etheridge in 2014 and now the goalkeeper is starring in the Premier League with Cardiff City.

Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City celebrates after teammate Sol Bamba scores their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Brighton & Hove Albion at the...

While Fulham are seven points adrift and looking doomed, Neil Etheridge is inspiring Cardiff City’s survival dreams.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper has been a revelation between the sticks for the Bluebirds since they were promoted back to the top flight, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most underrated glovesmen with some impressive virtuoso performances.

The most recent of those came against Southampton at St Mary’s as Cardiff triumphed 2-1. Kenneth Zohore’s stoppage time winner made him the hero but the win would have been impossible if it wasn’t for another excellent performance from Etheridge.

 

And the form of the Phillipines international only rubs salt into Fulham’s wounds. The Enfield-born shot-stopper started his career with The Cottagers but he was released in 2014 after making just one first-team appearance for the West London outfit.

“The team had just got relegated to the Championship and it had been a really tough season for me being injured for the majority of it,” Etheridge told Planet Football in December.

Fulham's defenders Brede Hangeland (L) and Chris Baird (R) react in front of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge (C) after a last second equaliser by Odense's Djiby Fall during their UEFA Europa...

“But when I got released it was a shock to be honest. The new manager wanted to change things so I found myself not really knowing what to do. I was forced out of my comfort zone.”

Etheridge has had to be patient for his chance at the top level but he has certainly seized his opportunity with both hands – quite literally.

Fulham, meanwhile, are stuck in the relegation zone having conceded more goals than any other side in the Premier League (58) with Sergio Rico, Marcus Bettinelli and Fabri all struggling to plug the gaps during stints between the sticks.

Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City saves a penalty from Kenedy of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Newcastle United at Cardiff City Stadium on August...

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