“Olá! I am Heurelho Gomes, I’m the fourth choice goalkeeper for Tottenham. I have made eleven appearances for Brazil but I haven’t payed for Spurs since last November. I joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and was first choice goalkeeper until Harry Redknapp dropped me in May, 2010. I haven’t played a Premier League match since then. My new manager hasn’t picked me either – he even sent away up north to Carlisle to sit on the bench. Get me out of White Hart Lane!”
Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham’s Brazilian international goalkeeper, has replaced Giovani dos Santos as the forgotten man at White Hart Lane. The international goalkeeper has not played in any games for Spurs this season. The nearest he has come to getting into the team following an early season injury was at Carlisle where he was substitute as cover for Carlo Cudicini in the Capital One Cup game. Gomes has clearly dropped to fourth choice goalkeeper at Tottenham, having made only three appearances since being dropped by Harry Redknapp for the final three games of the 2010-11 season.
A ‘Confidence’ Goalkeeper
Heurelho Gomes (31 years old) is an outstanding goalkeeper who is a mix of the incredible and the unbelievable. Incredible saves along with unbelievable errors which bring an unnecessary pressure on the whole team. This was evident to Spurs supporters when he played for PSV Eindhoven against Spurs in the UEFA Cup in 2008. Tottenham lost at home when Gomes was a mix of saves and fumbles but Spurs were unable to take advantage. Then in the away leg which Spurs won to take the game to extra time and penalties, Gomes was the hero. He made saves at vital times in the game which denied Spurs the win their performance deserved – a late save that took the game to extra time, an outstanding save in the final minute of extra time and then a penalty save to deny Jermaine Jenas who could have won the penalty shoot out for Tottenham. Gomes is a goalkeeper who can make outstanding saves but follow it up with a basic error which raises uncertainty in the minds of the defence and invites pressure from the opposition. He is a confidence goalkeeper and when he loses that it greatly affects his whole game.
A Difficult Start at White Hart Lane
On joining Tottenham, Gomes found it difficult to adjust to the demands and pressure of the Premier League. Any mistake or misjudgement is so often punished in English football that he was immediately under pressure and scrutiny. His arrival coincided with Tottenham’s ‘two points from eight games’ start to the 2008-09 season and the eventual appointment of Harry Redknapp. Two blunders in a defeat at Fulham ended Redknapp’s unbeaten start as Totenham manager and Gomes’ confidence was gone. The appointment of former Tottenham goalkeeper, Tony Parks, as goalkeeping coach helped to rebuild his confidence and performances. Restored to the team he helped Tottenham avoid relegation and the next season produced some amazing saves as Tottenham reached the Champions League. However, he was still the same keeper with rash decisions and mistakes plaguing his performances.
In season 2010-11, a series of blunders cost Tottenham points as they sought to retain fourth place in the League. There was the farcical blunder early in the season at Old Trafford where he set the ball down expecting a free-kick, only for Nani to hit it into an empty net. After a number of confidence sapping performances from Gomes, Redknapp lost patience and dropped him for the last three games of the season. The final agonies which summed up Gomes as a goalkeeper came in two consecutive games. Against Blackpool at home he saved a penalty but was so hyper after the save that he totally lost control of his actions and rushed out needlessly and conceded another penalty from the resulting corner. Then in the next match at Chelsea with Spurs a goal ahead, he let a shot from Frank Lampard slip from his grasp and roll towards the goal line. He dived back and retrieved the ball before it crossed the line but the referee awarded a goal and Spurs went on to lose the match.
‘The Forgotten Man’
Gomes played on three occasions last season – he was nervy against Hearts and that performance probably confirmed Harry Redknapp in his decision to make Friedel his number one choice. Gomes than played at Stoke City in the Carling Cup. The Stoke game is always a difficult match for a goalkeeper with the home team’s high ball and set-piece threat. Gomes doesn’t cope well with such tactics but in two hours football he didn’t concede a goal as Spurs went on to lose another penalty shoot-out. His next match was the Europa League home game against Rubin Kazan. The Russian team were difficult opponents for another young Spurs side but Gomes put in a match winning performance with a number of good saves. He again showed both sides of his game with good saves as the Russians proved a potent attacking threat but also some nervy moments where everyone had to hold their breath. Spurs won and Gomes played an important part in that success. In his three appearances last season, Gomes kept three clean sheets. Those, however, were his last for Spurs with Andre Villas-Boas showing no sign of selecting him, preferring Carlo Cudicini as his third choice goalkeeper for Cup ties, behind Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris.
There has been speculation at recent transfer windows that Gomes would leave White Hart Lane but injuries often made it impossible to bring any deal to a conclusion. He was a firm favourite with PSV Eindhoven and a return to Holland could be a possibility where his idiosyncrasies are less problematic. Gomes, himself, has also talked of a desire to return home to play in Brazil.
Whatever happens to Heurelho Gomes in the future, it is in all probability going to take place away from Tottenham. As a goalkeeper, he could have many more successful years with a club where he can attempt to rebuild his career after a lost eighteen months at White Hart Lane.