Chris Miller of WindyCOYS profiles Heurelho Gomes’ time at Spurs…
Heurelho Gomes was brought to Tottenham by Juande Ramos in 2008 – he was familiar to Spurs fans already, of course, having saved a Jermaine Jenas’ penalty to halt Spurs’ progression in the 2007/8 UEFA Cup. Indeed, reading the BBC’s match report from that day could have told Spurs fans all they needed to know: “Gomes had an erratic game, frequently keeping his side in the game, only to then endanger his team with a rush of blood to the head.” Those rushes of blood have, seemingly, ended his Spurs career.
Gomes often got what was, in my opinion, unfair criticism in the press and amongst football fans in general for another area of his game – punching. Gomes is a pro-active goalkeeper, something that English football fans are not too used to seeing. His natural inclination is to come for every cross, punch everything away, dominate his penalty box.
In Europe and South America, this style of goalkeeping is widely-lauded; it is seen as a positive for crosses to be punched to safety, punching being lower-risk than catching the ball, as there is less chance of spilling it. Goalkeepers are, therefore, trained to punch crosses rather than catch crosses when competing with other bodies in a crowded penalty area.
The media in this country picked up on Gomes’ tendency to punch the ball and highlighted it as a negative, adding another cross to the list of his flaws in the eyes of many.
To continue on the upside of Gomes, he can be said, I think, to be one of the finest shot-stoppers Spurs have ever had – both the “miracle” save from Kaboul (the words of Pat Jennings) and pretty much his entire performance in our 2-1 win against Arsenal in April 2010 were, for example, breathtaking. But so too were some of his errors, and Gomes undoubtedly made too many errors which were often, unfortunately, both high-profile and fundamental. Too many, that is, to maintain his position in the team.
He enjoyed his best spell after Harry Redknapp had brought in Tony Parks to work with him, and he put together some excellent back-to-back performances. In 2008/9, we only conceded ten goals at home – a club record – and Gomes, The Octopus, should always take pride in this.
He was a popular figure at White Hart Lane – almost a cult hero – despite the errors, and his routine at the start of each half (where he would run across the goal line and reach up to the crossbar, and then do the same in reverse) will always be fondly remembered.