As this awful season draws to a close I’m more interested in the accolades of our stunning goalkeeper than the analytical dissection that follows any given defeat.
For me and almost every supporter I’ve spoken to, it seems nailed on that Dorus De Vries will be Nottingham Forest’s player of the year; but how does he compare to our previous Dutch divers?
To assist me with this blog I’ve enlisted the help of a former team mate and one of the most accomplished goalkeepers I’ve ever played alongside.
Darren Wheater-Lowe is a goalkeeping coach at Dunkirk and Nottingham Forest Ladies.
He was one of those keepers that always seemed to be in the right place during his playing days.
We played in the same Dunkirk side that won the Central Midlands League in 2005 - this is when I realised that there is so much more to goalkeeping than desperate diving!
I asked Daz to compare De Vries to both Hans Segers and Hans Van Breukelen, not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.
Hans Segers - A so called ‘small keeper’, despite being 6ft 1in, he always played second fiddle to Steve Sutton and was even loaned to three different clubs in the same season.
He was an excellent shot-stopper with lightning reflexes and just as important, good on his feet.
To quote Darren’s own words “He seemed to glide from side to side; a great example to young keepers to be on your toes.”
As for Bravery? You don’t replace somebody like Dave Beasant at Wimbledon (The Crazy Gang) and rack up over 200 appearances without having some serious backbone.
Hans Van Breukelen – The best since Shilton? He was a guy who demanded professionalism from the entire side, not just the defence.
Very quick off his line and a role model for a young Edwin Van Der Sar, who went on to become the most capped goalkeeper for the Netherlands, he was also capable of top drawer saves too.
Take a look at the 1988 Euro Championship final for evidence of this when it mattered most - none more so than the penalty save in that very final.
Some considered it arrogance as he psyched out the Russian player prior to the kick, but there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
Ironically it was his commitment to his country that ended his City Ground career, a real shame because he had become a firm favourite with the Forest supporters.
He returned to PSV Eindhoven and racked up over 300 appearances, winning the European Cup via penalties in the process.
Type ‘Het Polletje’ into YouTube to see a bizarre piece of action involving Van Breukelen at PSV.
Dorus De Vries – The first sight of this guy should be enough to put any striker off as he is the tallest of the three at 6ft 3ins.
Some have said that he should be more commanding when coming off his line and dealing with crosses, but Courtois at Chelsea is very similar.
Darren explained that the game has changed for keepers in this way though.
In years gone by you took the ball and everything in its path. Nowadays there seems to be real caution due to the awarding of penalties at any point of contact. He goes on to make comparisons between De Vries and David De Gea, in the way that he has kept his side in the game at so many junctures throughout the season.
De Vries has made some world class saves on numerous occasions and if Petr Cech is worth 15 points a season to Arsenal then Dorus must be worth 20 to Forest.
He’s played less than 50 games for us but on this form coupled with his constant improvement, I could see him hitting the 300 mark if he chooses.
So when you compare the three Dutchmen it’s fair to say that Van Breukelen comes out on top; but if De Vries continues to perform like he has, given time he could well be the new King of Holland!
Ironically this blog is published just days after a mix-up between Kelvin Wilson and De Vries led to another awful home defeat for Forest.
The centre half was mostly to blame on this occasion but the constant booing that he received for the remainder of the game upset me.
Yes he may have had a bad time since returning from Celtic, but booing the lad isn’t going to do him or his team mates any favours.
In all fairness De Vries couldn’t do much about the goals that we conceded in the defeat to Brentford, and even so, along with the back four (see last week’s blog) he may just be the man that keeps us up.
I’m sure he will be our official player of the year; he has already been named so by The Munster Forest Supporters Club last week.
I wouldn’t bet against many of the other branches going Dutch either!
Finally, massive thanks to Darren Wheater-Lowe for all his hard work and analysis with this blog.