brighton logo
 
 

Withdean's Greatest XI Vote - Goalkeeper

With the end in sight for Brighton and Hove Albion's time at Withdean Stadium, we've decided to put together a poll for the Greatest XI to pull on the stripes during our 12 year stay - with this weeks vote being for our goalkeeper

If one position has proven to be a nightmare for the Albion since returning to the City of Brighton and Hove in 1999, it has been goalkeeper.

Incredibly, we have got through a grant total of 24 (TWENTY FOUR) men between the posts in our 12 year stay - and that does not include unused substitutes who never took to the field (Chris Jones anyone?!)

Among them, we've had ten different nationalities (13 English, 2 Danes, 1 Scot, 1 Welsh, 1 Irish, 1 Northern Irish, 1 Swede, 1 Dutch, 1 Slovakian and 1 American), four who have won full international honours, a fair few examples of quality and a lot more examples of complete incompetence.

We've narrowed the shortlist down to the ten who have played the most games for the club as well as a bonus World Cup star - so pick your poison!

Please remember this is a vote for the player you thought to be the BEST Albion goalkeeper - not your favourite!

Mark Walton 1999-2000, 58 appearances
Welshman Walton signed from then-landlords Gillingham in 1998. After fighting and losing the battle with Mark Ormerod for the number one jersey for the 1998-99 season, he established himself as first choice 'keeper for the Seagulls first year at Withdean thanks in part to the arrival of Micky Adams whom he had played under at Fulham. An extremely vocal 'keeper, Walton did not prove too popular with fans and this was more often than not reflected in the fact that he came across as a moody sod and was slightly on the podgy side. Despite being offered the chance to be number one in 2000-2001, he left the club on a free transfer to sign for his hometown team Cardiff.
Michel Kuipers 2000-2011, 247 appearances
When the former Dutch Marine was substituted after just 45 minutes of his debut at Southend in 2000, nobody would have thought he would last another eleven years at the club. But he did. After regaining his place from Mark Cartwright, Kuipers never looked back and was number one for back-to-back promotions in 2001 and 2002. A fantastic shot stopper who could have gone onto greater things if it were not for horrendous bad luck with injuries, he was only truly replaced by one better 'keeper - Ben Roberts - who was even more unlucky in the treatment room. Michel was released at the end of 2010-11 as Gus Poyet sought a new brand of football.
Ben Roberts 2003-2004, 35 appearances
Roberts originally arrived on-loan in 2002 but did enough in a three game spell to convince Steve Coppell to sign him permanently in the summer of 2003 and install him as number one. He was the complete package - good off his line, a fine communicator, a great shoot stopper and a knack for flair, often deciding that dribbling around opposition forwards was a good idea. He was influential in keeping seven clean sheets in eight games at the end of 2003-04, including in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium and pulled off a stunning penalty save against Swindon to help us there. Unfortunately, a back injury forced him to retire at the end of that season.
Dave Beasant 2003, 16 appearances
At the ripe old age of 44, Dave Beasant played a pivotal role in the Albion's unsuccessful bid to stave off relegation from Division One in 2003. With Michel Kuipers injured, Steve Coppell signed the vastly experienced 'keeper and he didn't disappoint. His attempted worm as Watford were beaten 4-0 at Withdean as well as the infamous tale of a heavy night ending with him sleeping in the corner of a city centre kebab shop after the Tuesday home encounter with Crystal Palace endeared him to the Albion support, and had Roberts not signed permanently in the summer of 2003 the likelihood is that Beasant would have still been pulling on a Brighton shirt at the age of 45.
Rami Shaaban 2005, 6 appearances
Yes, there are far more worthy players than Rami to be on the list. There is no hiding away from the fact that his total contribution while in an Albion shirt amounted to precisely bugger all, bar that 2-1 win over champions-elect Sunderland at Withdean. Signed from Arsenal where he had played Champions League football, he took over from David "pink shirt at Leeds" Yelldell, and no sooner had he warmed up his gloves than he was being replaced by Alan Blayney, who went onto play a key role in our survival that year. The strangest thing of all - a year later Shaaban found himself starting in the World Cup for Sweden. As they say, football is a funny old game.
Alan Blayney 2005, 15 appearances
With Mark McGhee having severe doubts about Rami Shaaban, he moved to bring in Alan Blayney from Southampton just before the loan deadline. Blayney was instantly installed as number one, a position he held until the end of the season and played a key role in the unbeaten run that helped secure the Albion's Championship status in 2004-05. McGhee tried to sign the 'keeper permanently in the summer, but was priced out of a move. He did return to the club though for a second loan spell in late 2005 when Wayne Henderson's initial three months were up and Michel Kuipers was still not fit, and saved penalties in back-to-back games with Derby and Watford.
Wayne Henderson 2005-2007, 36 appearances
Henderson was another loan signing to solve a keeper crisis, coming in just days before the start of the 2005-06 season. He impressed enough to convince Mark McGhee to fork out 35,000 for him from Aston Villa and in his time at Withdean he became a full Ireland international but was a divisive figure among Seagulls fans. Great performances, particularly away at Leeds and Crystal Palace, were mixed in with the habit of parrying a ball straight to an oncoming centre forward, and his days were numbered when a large majority of the supporters booed him off the field following a last minute mistake at Bournemouth.
Peter Brezovan 2009-, 20 appearances
With Michel Kuipers again injured and Graeme Smith leaking goals at an alarming rate, Gus Poyet made his first signing as Albion boss when he recruited Slovakian Peter Brezovan. Sexy Pete made an instant impact, saving a penalty on his debut against Exeter and although prone to make the odd cock up usually when dealing with a ball into his box as games against Wycombe and Carlisle showed, he soon made the number one shirt his own in the Albion's impressive run at the end of 2009-10. He would have begun the 2010-11 season as number one, but a hand injury suffered in pre-season has restricted to him to just cup appearances this season.
Casper Ankergren 2010-, 28 appearances
Ankergren signed on the eve of the 2010-2011 season after Gus Poyet remained unconvinced about new signing Michael Poke filling the void left by Peter Brezovan's injury. The former Leeds stopper hasn't looked back, playing in every league game this season in one of the meanest defences. He has pulled off some vital stops to earn points this season, most notably away at Carlisle and Southampton and his distribution and role in the "flicky flicky" style of football is key to starting attacks from the back. The only question marks remain about his ability to deal with crosses, but with such solid fullbacks in front of him its a weakness that is yet to really be exposed.