Ten Of The Best
Goalkeeper coach Jim Stewart shares his Ten of the Best with your club website
THIS season we’ll be re-publishing a much loved programme feature where various former players and staff talk about some of their favourite experiences and tales from football in 10 of the Best.
Goalkeeping coach JIM STEWART looks back at the 1974 World Cup, visiting the Maracana and discusses his dodgy golf slice.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH JIM FOR HIM TO ANSWER TEN OF THE BEST – SCROLL DOWN TO READ BELOW.
Best Game I Played In
Throughout a player’s career, he’ll always have a few games that stand out to him. My debut at Kilmarnock was special because it was actually against Rangers and we managed to win 2-1 so that was a significant game for me at that stage as I was only 18.
When I went to Middlesbrough, we went to Highbury and got a 0-0 draw which was good for me from a goalkeeping point of view. The match which stands out as the best game I played in though is the Scottish Cup Final in 1981 for Rangers against Dundee United.
I had come back up from England and while we went to a replay and won that 4-1 after a 0-0 draw, it was a great win for us. Ian Redford missed a penalty on the Saturday but Davie Cooper came in for the rematch and inspired us. It was a fantastic feat for us at that time to win so handsomely against an emerging United side.
Best Career Experience
The 1974 World Cup was the best experience of my career. I was only 20 and part-time at Kilmarnock at that point but I made the squad for a few games before the finals and the manager Willie Ormond decided to take a young goalkeeper as part of the group that went to West Germany.
For me to get that opportunity at such a young age was huge as I hadn’t even played for the team yet but I went thinking I’d get to a few more tournaments like that and unfortunately I never did.
It’s something I remember so well though. We went into the first game against Zaire and it was all about just winning that, which we did 2-0. From there, we came up against Brazil and with a bit of luck we could have won on the night but drew 0-0 instead. Going into the final game against a fantastic
Yugoslavian team, we were in a good position and had a great chance of going through but despite giving a good account of ourselves, another draw – this time 1-1 – put us out. We were ever so unlucky and even though we never progressed, it’s a time I reflect on fondly.
With players like Billy Bremner, Jimmy Johnstone, Sandy Jardine, Joe Jordan and Tommy Hutchison, we had a vast array of talent.
Best Opponent Faced
Kenny Dalglish was an outstanding player too and certainly one of the best of his time.
I came up against him both when I was at Kilmarnock and he was a Celtic player then again when I was at Middlesbrough and he was turning out for Liverpool. He’s the best opponent I’ve faced and he had a variety of finishes in him.
Kenny was always very sharp in the box and you’d always be wary both of what he’d do next and how he was going to do it. He was at his peak when he was at Anfield and was always an awkward customer. Maybe younger generations nowadays don’t realise how good he was although the good thing is it’s not so long ago he played that technology hasn’t been able to capture some of the best things he did.
There are still videos of a lot of his goals and fantastic performances for folk to look back on. He didn’t score too many against me although he did get a couple.
Best Stadium Visited
I’ve been lucky to play in some fantastic grounds over the years and the year before the 1978 World Cup, Scotland were invited to play some games in South America so we went to Chile, Argentina and then Brazil.
The game against the Brazilians was in the Maracana and although we were beaten 2-0, it was still a great experience. I’ll always be able to say I’ve been to Rio and the Maracana and although I didn’t play in that match after appearing in a 4-2 win over Chile, it’s still the best stadium I’ve been to as a player.
It has changed a lot of course ahead of this summer’s World Cup finals and it looks like a terrific place but it was special back then. It wasn’t full but the place
was so vast and the chance to go there was a big thing for us. It was the first time, for instance, we had encountered an indoor warm-up area which was quite unusual at that time.
Best Childhood Memory
My dad was a Kilmarnock supporter so he’d take my brother and I along to their games at Rugby Park and that’s probably my best childhood memory. Killie had a cracking team at that time and they won the 1964/65 First Division with so many good players in their side. Bobby Ferguson was the goalie and guys like Tommy McLean were there too.
To join up there at the back end of that era was quite exciting for me as a teenager. Kilmarnock had been qualifying for Europe in the years before I went there and they used to attract some big attendances.
When Rangers or Celtic came to town, there would be crowds of 30,000 and it was great. Going to games with my dad was good fun back then and I can remember them drawing 2-2 with Leeds United in the Fairs Cup before losing the return leg at Elland Road. At that time, Killie were one of the best provincial clubs in the country.
Best Goalkeeping Tip
Listen to the advice you’re given.
That’s the best tip I could give an aspiring young goalkeeper. If you do that and take what you’re being told on board, you’ll have your best chance of
taking that into the matches you play.
Without naming any names, we’ve had a couple of young goalies at Murray Park in the last few years who have had fantastic potential at first and we kept giving them advice about how to live their lives in terms of their lifestyles and how they conducted themselves when they were here but it hasn’t worked out.
It’s strange because it’s all here for them but it’s only when they go away that lads who fall into that category realise what they’re missing. When you have a conversation with them about it afterwards, a lot of them say ‘If only I had listened’ and it’s crucial people do that. It’s not a rule that’s exclusive to goalkeepers either.
Right through the team, you have to remember your coaches are trying to get the best out of you.
Best Goalkeeper In The World
I’m a big fan of Gigi Buffon and for me, he’s the best goalkeeper in the world.
He has been fantastic over the years he has played and he’s certainly someone I’ve a lot of admiration for. Buffon is somebody who is great with the ball at his feet and he effectively plays like a sweeper at times.
The whole concept of goalkeeping has changed and with teams looking to build from the back much more, managers and coaches are looking for goalies to be useful in terms of how they distribute the ball. When you look at Buffon and the way he performed for Juventus against Celtic, he was so calm and collected.
He looked a real class act then as he has done for much of his career. I can remember him from 1996, when Scotland got to the finals of the under-21 European Championships in Barcelona. Buffon played along with Alessandro Nesta for Italy as they won the competition after beating Spain in the final and he was excellent. He hasn’t done too badly since either.
Best Friend In Football
Like a lot of people, I’ve met so many people in the game over the years who I’ve been able to remain friends with but I don’t know if I’ve necessarily got a best friend in football.
I’m quite friendly with Jim Leighton and he’s a good friend of mine. Jim Fleeting, the SFA’s Director of Football Development, is someone I also get on well with.
Best Way To Relax Away From Football
I’m a keen golfer and it’s my best way to relax away from football but I get a lot of stick from the rest of the management team for my game.
The four of us have been known to have a round together from time to time and there have been various permutations but I can honestly say I’ve not done too badly.
I’m best known to the rest of them as The Welder because there have been a couple of times in the past when I’ve had an opportunity to win the game and then the old welding helmet has come down and I’ve missed it.
Needless to say, I’ve taken pelters for that. I play as often as I can and the summer’s clearly the best time to do that down at Irvine Golf Club. I had my knee done not so long ago but sadly it hasn’t helped sort out my slice in any way. I did ask the surgeon if he might be able to do something that sorted that out but it didn’t work.
Best Thing About Working At Rangers
I’m still active and still participating and enjoying my time at the club. I’m working with a really good group of goalies and that brings me a lot of satisfaction.