As well as coaching some of the country’s elite goalkeepers, the former Welsh international is also part of a group responsible for coaching coaches who look after ‘keepers at all levels of the game, from professionals to junior football and is keen to get his message across when on the training pitch.

Martin Thomas : Profile

Position

Assistant National Goalkeeping Coach

D.O.B

28.11.59

P.O.B

Senghenydd, South Wales

Clubs

Bristol Rovers, Cardiff City (loan), Southend United (loan), Newcastle United, Middlesbrough (loan), Birmingham City, Cheltenham Town.
Following a playing career which took him from parks of south Wales to the number one jersey at Birmingham City, via Bristol Rovers – where he made his debut as a 17-year-old, and Newcastle United, Thomas took his first steps in coaching.

“I did my Prelim badge while I was at Newcastle,” he explains. “The Northumberland FA came in and delivered a course to all the players, Peter Beardsley, Glenn Roeder, Paul Goddard and Gazza were on it too.

“When I left Newcastle and went to Birmingham I felt the time was right to do my badges while I was still playing so I did the prep courses and kept going on from there.”

Now a holder of the UEFA ‘A’ Licence, Martin started working with The FA in the early 1990s as a Regional Development Officer in the Midlands under current England U17 coach John Peacock.

”He asked me to get involved in the goalkeeping development programme on a part-time basis with the likes of Steve Ogrizovic, Paul Barron, and Andy Poole.,” he says.

“We would run development days once a month for a group of goalkeepers from 12-16 from all the clubs in the Midlands. This gave the opportunity to the keepers at the clubs to get some specialised goalkeeping training as they didn’t have goalkeeping coaches in those days.”

In 1996 Keith Blunt called Thomas in to help with the U16 goalkeepers, which included Richard Wright, then a year later he joined The FA full-time, ironically replacing John Peacock who moved to Derby as their Academy Director.

He has carried on working with the England teams ever since, but in 1998 joined Ray Clemence’s new goalkeeping department at The FA and it was their job to develop a structure for goalkeeping coaching education.

“That started in 1999 and was completed in July of this year when we introduced the Goalkeeping Level One course. We now run courses at all levels of the game,” says Thomas.

“We coach the coaches and always encourage them to understand the role of the goalkeeper within the team, what you don’t do is isolate them and take them away from the rest of the squad in training.

“They need a level of ability with the ball and should have the opportunity to train with the outfield players, not just for shooting sessions but for possession games, passing drills and small-sided games.

"They can’t be asked to perform in the team on a Saturday without having any involvement with the players during the week.”

We'll have more from Martin Thomas in the coming weeks as he offers some training tips for aspiring 'keepers.