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A tragic loss for Sunderland and football

Goalkeepers are a rare breed. Even when you think of some of the greats there has always been a little bit of madness in choosing to go between the posts.

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Article by Jon Guy

The only other position on the pitch that comes under such individual scrutiny is your striker, a missed chance is met with derision while a goal is greeted with delight.

For the keeper however the fumble or the failure to deal with a cross or shot sees the blame heaped on the number one while a stunning save that may well have won the team a point or three is very rarely lauded to the extent of the exploits at the other end.

In fact, when you look at the transfer fees, the keeper is not rated anywhere near the level of the striker. Bale and Ronaldo acquired for upwards of £80 million but pay a quarter of that for a keeper and the media and fans will be raising their eyes as to the cost.

But for me some of my favourite Sunderland players have been goalkeepers.

As a boy Barry Siddle, a giant of a man to my small eyes at the time but a gentle one when you have the pleasure of meeting him and getting the all-important autograph, was a major part of the team at the time.

Indeed, Sunderland’s greatest moment over the past 80 years is a case in point. The late great Ian Porterfield will go down in history as scoring the winning goal but ask any Sunderland fan who was lucky enough to witness the game and they will say Jim Montgomery’s double save when Peter Lorimer was certain to score won the cup for The Lads that day.

Our 1992 run to the FA Cup final was in no small part down to Tony Norman and those of us at the Baseball Ground will never forget the last minute header by Mart Poom to score and send us all home with massive grins on our faces.

In recent years Tommy Sorenson and his penalty save in the Wear Tyne derby is another highlight but so was a heroic display by Hungarian goalkeeper Marton Fulop against Arsenal when we held on for a 0-0 draw against the odds.

Marton was understudy to what was then Britain’s most expensive keeper Craig Gordon but he played 50 times for Sunderland and never let us down.

Speak to Ipswich Town fans and they will say he did them proud too so to hear that he has succumbed to cancer at the age of just 32 is a real tragedy.

It is always sad when we hear of ex-players or managers who have had a long and distinguished career in the game passing away in their 70s and 80s but here was a man who still had the majority of his life in front of him.

A truly sad loss not only for football but also his family.

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