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Thursday, 03 January 2013 17:51

Tony Roberts Interview Blog

Tony Roberts Interview Blog

I recently spoke to Tony Roberts who is now one of the goalkeeping coaches at Premiership side Arsenal having had a good professional playing career. Tony played over 800 games with 150+ of them coming with Queens Park Rangers and over 550+ with Dagenham & Redbridge through from when they were a non league side into the football league. He was also capped for Wales and he talks a bit about himself and what his goalkeeping coaching philosophies are.


First, a little about myself. I am currently 43 years young and have been involved in professional football since I left Holyhead in North Wales at the ripe age of 16. My career started when I signed for Queens Park Rangers in December of 1986.  I made my way through the ranks from, the youth team right through to becoming the clubs number one goalkeeper, playing over 150 times, many of those coming in the Premier League. As a result, I was recognised internationally, representing Wales at all levels from U18’s to the senior national team. During this time I was involved in both European and World Cup qualifying campaigns; a tremendous honour and experience.


Unfortunately, injury forced me to retire at the age of 28; however, with the help of a surgeon I consulted during a brief stint playing in America, I was able to resurrect my professional playing career, assisted by a specially designed splint which protected my finger. This fantastic aid allowed me to rack up another 550+ appearances for Dagenham and Redbridge, going from the national Conference to League One via a Wembley win in 2010. I finally hung up my gloves (permanently, this time!) in 2011 to pursue my career in coaching.


After qualifying as an F.A Goalkeeping Coach, I have enjoyed almost ten years’ experience in coaching at every level from grass roots right through to the professional game.  As the 1st Team Goalkeeping Coach at Queens Park Rangers, I was in charge of the development of all goalkeepers for over seven years.  I then moved on to Arsenal, where I started out coaching the young up and coming goalkeepers, managing their development on their journey from youth football to the senior game. This brings me to my current position, where I occupy the role of Assistant 1st Team Goalkeeper Coach.


Here, I work with the senior goalkeepers; obviously a fantastic honour at the very top level of the game. As well as this I oversee and help manage the progress and development of all of the goalkeepers from 17-21 years of age. 


Over the years, I have worked with some great international goalkeepers, as well as some of the game’s best coaches. Names that spring to mind include Neville Southall (Everton and Wales), David Seaman (Arsenal and England), Jan Stejskal (QPR and Czechoslovakia), Bob Wilson (Arsenal and Scotland) and Mike Kelly (QPR and Ireland).  I was also lucky enough (or not so in some cases!), to have played against some true greats such as Peter Schmeichel, David James, and Tim Flowers to name just three.  Hopefully you can see that I have worked with and faced some of the best in the game.  This has greatly assisted my own personal learning and development, and I now I feel I have the necessary knowledge to pass on to the next generation of goalkeepers.



My Philosophy.


I believe that goalkeeper performance is made up of elements relating to four fundamental areas; technical, tactical, physical and mental.


Each of these components is vital in providing the foundation for peak performance between the sticks.


My coaching philosophy involves various methods, both on and off the pitch. These are designed and delivered in a way that maximises performance and knowledge acquisition. A huge part of development is about creating an environment conducive to improving; one in which we work hard, but most importantly enjoy it!


It is the above principles which have shaped the way in which I work and the results that I achieve. Just ask some of boys!


Below is a brief taster of some of the areas that are covered under the four key components listed above:




Shot stopping

Angle recognition

Attacking the ball and recovery lines


Dealing with Crosses    

Situational starting positions 

My specific timing techniques


Support & Communication

Situational starting positions

Specific techniques (diving at feet, spread and block, etc) 

The goalkeeper’s vocabulary



1st touch/control and passing varieties

Throwing techniques




Organisational skills in specific situations

Know your role!




Specific goalkeeper related fitness drills

Developing core strength, speed, agility, co-ordination and power




Seeing the pictures early!

Mental toughness

Dealing with adversity

Lifestyle and preparation



“Know, learn and understand your role in the team.”




I would just like to personally thank Tony for taking the time out to talk about his philosophy


Watch this space for the next in the series of interviews coming up shortly................................


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