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Is a Clean Sheet More Important Than a Goal?

And I think it’s a valid question. After last weeks entry regarding the Taureau D’or race this season, I thought I’d look at the goalkeeper situation over the same time. When I played, I was a midfielder, but I always either wanted to be a striker first and then a goalkeeper. Being a goalkeeper is such a specialist position that you have to be qualified specifically in that field to train a goalkeeper, plus, they have their own equipment regarding safety, etc. However, clean sheets don’t necessarily mean you have to have a good goalkeeper. The defence in front of you could easily be more important in terms of heading, clearing and keeping hold of the ball.

Going all the way back to 2000/01 there have been 9 keepers who have won the clean sheet award. Compared to strikers winning the Golden Boot award, it’s different in that only 1 striker retained his award, and even that was shared! Along with this, 4 non Belgian players won the clean sheet award compared to only 4 Belgians winning the Taureau D’or over the same period. Not that nationality matters, but surely the Pro League would prefer home grown players succeeding overall.

Another contrast is that these goalkeepers stayed at their clubs, whereas strikers up and left their clubs after a successful spell in front of goal. Only 3 goalkeepers left their clubs, and there’s one exception with Dany Verlinden retiring after winning his second Clean Sheet award over this time spell. Maybe this proves goalkeepers are more loyal, maybe less ambitious or that foreign clubs don’t see clean sheets in Belgium as a huge deal compared to somebody trying to score? Whether I’ve been unfair or not there I don’t know, but it’s worth a question.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Sorry to compare again, but 7 teams have won the league with their goalkeeper being the most consistent. Which may answer the question regarding this blog. If you’re​ defensively switched on and ready, that could mean that you win leagues more than a potent striker who may grab a goal a game, but of course that doesn’t guarantee points. 
The best goalkeeper over this spell in regards to winning this award the most is Silvio Proto. Sorry if Anderlecht fans read this, but I’ve never been a fan of his, even if he has won the award 4 times, but does this actually mean he was the best, or that his team was the best defensively? The only thing with him winning this award is that Anderlecht won the league 50% of the time! 

Technically for me, the best goalkeeper was Eiji Kawashima, who kept the best clean sheet percentage AND it was a great percentage with his clean sheet to games ratio over his 2 Texaco Clean Sheet awards​. The only problem for Standard Liege over this time is that they never won a title, yet they did win titles over 2 seasons with the best goalkeeper in that spell, Rorys Aragón. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

Forgetting the individual between the sticks, only 4 clubs have actually won this award, and if it wasn’t for Matz Sels at Gent last season, it would only be 3 clubs. No surprise those clubs were Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege, and the way it’s going this season with Ludovic Butelle, the Frenchman will continue this trend with Brugge. At the moment, he firmly stands alone at the top of this list this current season, so it is likely he’ll claim the award.
To end, I’m undecided whether or not clean sheets win you titles more than goals, because you can win football matches by scoring goals and conceding, the only thing is clean sheets guarantee that you don’t lose, so you start and end with a point, but without a goal, you’ll never earn 3 points, so that’s why I’m undecided. All that I know is that strikers win every accolade and cost the most so maybe that means goals are more important?

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I am a father, a husband and a lover of football. Which order I do love all 3 is up to you to decide

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